Saturday, January 7, 2012

Emotional/verbal Abuse

***** Reading this may be offensive or triggering for some readers***** 
Continue on at your own risk.

Sticks and Stones may break my bones...
But names can scar forever.

Not quite what you remember from the childhood taunts?

mulderfan posted on her blog information she found on upsi's blog.  
I admire both of these women.  They have done so much to open my eyes to emotional abuse and how it continues into adult years.  Check out this list.  I'll wait for you to come back:
If you read through this list, almost every single one of them could be classified as emotional abuse.  I include verbal abuse with emotional abuse since most verbal abuse fits in this category.  Verbal and emotional abuse are not illegal.  Some schools are attempting to outlaw cyber bulling and putting no bully rules in place.  Some how I don't think they will meet with much success.

I spent years talking with my counselor about all the different ways emotional abuse destroys a person.  When he finally got me to talk about my childhood, I started remembering more and more with most of it varying degrees of emotional abuse.  Toxic Parents was the book used to pry open my memories.  I actually did remember more of this information since it started in early childhood and continued through to now; I'm over 50 years old.  It was a pain that just kept coming.  

Name calling was a part of my growing up and being reminded of it in my adult life.  My counselor asked me why I didn't tell my parents.  I shrugged, "They called me the same names."  Ding-a-ling...Ghost...Light's are on but nobody's home... (actually this one is probably the perfect description of dissociation at an extreme level.  Instead of getting me help, they made fun of me.)  I was the but of many jokes.  Laughed at....ridiculed... most people can relate to these things.  

I am going to share about a particularly cruel behavior that I unfortunately used also.  The older I got the more I started realizing it didn't make sense but I didn't know how to change what I didn't understand myself.  My mother was the emotional drama queen of our family.  In the strange way that can sometimes happen in a family, my mother controlled me when she felt she couldn't control herself.  I was not allowed to have emotions.  People wonder how is this possible to do to a child?  Adults it is difficult...but a child...that is another story.  If I cried, I was told that if I didn't stop crying I would be given something to cry about.  This meant another spanking.  A threat of violence is a fairly good deterrent for crying.  If I was bored, I would be told that only stupid people are bored and be given more work to do.  Now, here is where it gets really weird, if I was happy, I would be told how miserable someone else was.  If I was excited, I was put down until I stopped.  It did not matter what emotion I felt, it would be stopped.  My pedophile neighbor completed my training.  My pain was his pleasure.  The only way to stop him enjoying what he did to me was to stop feeling pain.  No pain, no pleasure, no happiness, no sorrow, no feeling.  One of my personalities could completely and totally disconnect from all my emotions and pain.  A story to demonstrate how completely I could do this I broke my arm a few years after I started counseling.  At the time, I was aware of all the personalities but not integrated yet.  When I went to get my arm x-rayed, the technician apologized that I would need to straighten out my arm for one of the pictures.  I told her.  OK.  Just give me a second.  At this point in my progress, I was able to switch personalities at will.  I focused and switched to Marie.  I straightened out my arm and they took the x-rays.  Marie left as soon as the pictures were done.  The pain rushing through my body was excruciating.  But the pictures were done and it showed that I had a broken elbow.  Emotion and pain were totally disconnected during Marie's presence.  Another time during the semester after I integrated, I took a photography class of taking a photos everyday.  When we had enough photos, several hundred, we started creating sequences of pictures.  I struggled.  I didn't get it.  I asked the professor...his reply, "Just put them together how you feel."  Crap.  Integration did not include knowing or identifying what emotions meant.  Integration did not fix being in touch with my emotions.  I met with the professor with a stack of my pictures and explained my 'handicap.'  His comment was that he thought that would be really nice to not feel negative emotions.  To share with him how not cool it is, I said, "You have daughters, imagine being at their wedding and being very happy for them, only you can't tell them."  He considered that and agreed that not feeling was a 'handicap.'  He then proceeded to show me how I could put a sequence together without using emotion.  As the class progressed, so did my ability to feel.  I was very excited the first time I identified a shared emotion.  The emotion...boredom.  It is a terrible feeling and I better understand why the sign language jester looks like you are picking your nose.  It was awful.  But it felt so good to feel, identify, and accept one of the forbidden emotions.  

KavinCoach recognized how severe my problem with emotions early in the counseling.  Five months after starting counseling my mother-in-law died.  I went to our appointment the next day as usual.  I made sure that the kids were with my husband so he wasn't alone.  At the beginning of the appointment, I stated why I was alone.  I had other things to talk about.  KavinCoach stopped me.  He asked, "How do you feel about it?"  My face spoke volumes.  I was clearly puzzled by the question.  He then probed, "Are you happy?" Immediately, I answered, "No."  He asked, "Are you sad?"  Again I said, "No."  Then he asked the six million dollar question, "Do you feel anything at all?"  I shrugged, "No, why should I, she's not my mother."  I don't think we ever did talk about what I wanted to talk about that session.  He was working hard at trying to get me to feel anything.  Over the next several months he would attempt to get me angry...over and over again he failed.  One time he was finally getting me upset when suddenly the emotion vanished....KavinCoach stopped mid sentence.  He asked, "Where did it go?"  Me..."Where did what go?"  KC..."You were getting angry."  Me..."Yes."  KC..."What happened to it?"  Me..."I don't know."  He observed that the angrer wasn't being repressed because that shows in the tension in your face.  He marveled that the emotion was completely gone.  Some months later, I walked into a session, "KC, I found it."  All those years of emotions, anger, hurt, fear, happy, depressed, terrified, more anger.... were perfectly preserved in a boiling pool buried deep in myself.  I spent years allowing those emotions to finally see the light of day.  Bruises heal, bones mend, dead emotions take your life.  I felt that I may be breathing and acting like I was living but I wasn't alive until I could feel.  I am thankful to KavinCoach teaching me how to feel my own emotions.  I cried with my daughters. I shared with adult children their joy of babies coming into our world.  I felt angry when I was hurt.  I felt frustration at my job.  I felt peaceful pleasure.  Please, don't take my emotions away, for this is the essence of living. 

 Link to information on emotion abuse in relation to domestic abuse:      


Anonymous said...

thank you so much for writing this. it's informative, and also ends on a really positive note, showing that it's possible to heal from this. i truly hope i can be as brave as you are.

Ruth said...

Thanks Hats. You are amazing. I enjoy reading your blog. I am cheering you on.

mulderfan said...

"I was told that if I didn't stop crying I would be given something to cry about." Plucked right out of my childhood!

So weird reading this. After my NF shouted and accused me of hating him, people said I had every right to hate him. They were puzzled when I said I honestly feel no hate or anger toward him. My NM has spread the story that I "went off the deep end" and was shouting at NF about hating him.

I have NEVER in my life raised my voice or reacted in anger toward either of my NPs, the worst I have ever done is simply walk out and go home. All my life I have suppressed anger because I'm afraid of being a raging bully like my NF.

In my support group I was told anger is a natural emotion. It's how you handle it that sets you apart from lunatics like my NF.

Your post makes me realize I still can't experience anger or feel hate. Maybe I have more work to do!!!

Thanks and hugs, P/M

Mo-Mo said...

Ruth, my heart ached reading this. It's atrocious what N's do to us and think we are to be OK with it! I praise God that you found a councelor like KavinCoach who has helped you dig to find the 'You' that the N's in your life have tried so hard to bury.

Let your light now shine for all to see! ((HUGS))

Ruth said...

mulderfan, I suspect you do feel anger just not at your parents. You may have come to a place of peace that it is a waste of time. However, what if someone was hurting an animal, how fast do you think you would be angry? KavinCoach just had to find the thing that upset me to bring out a spectacular reaction. :)

Thank you Mo-Mo It is amazing what people think it is all right to do to their own children. I am thankful that I found KavinCoach.

Laurel Hawkes said...

When I saw the long list I thought, "Oh, I'll have dealt with some but not all. There are so many." Then I read through it, and my heart plummeted. The only one I'd missed was the last one, and that's only because I've never married.

Pronoia Agape said...

Never felt anything at all in my childhood whoever died, including family members. But, then again, most members of my family who died were narcs.

Felt very little over the years. Felt nothing for my first daughter when she was born - like I wasn't allowed to. This ended up becoming PPD.

Learning to allow myself to feel.

Ruth said...

Hugs PA, learning to feel is a huge challenge. I do believe it is worth the pain to feel the joy. Hoping for the very best for you.