I wish I could access those early memories

I wonder what you, as a reader of my blog, think of all my ruminations of my childhood and how it continues to affect me.  I know I write about it because I hope in sharing, I help others who may feel some things resonate with them.

I know the reason I try to help to others is that I don’t want other people to suffer needlessly if something I’ve experienced or learned might help them avoid that.

For me, it’s a partly due to high sensitivity and intuition, and even though I know through trial and error that some people do not want to be enlightened, I feel like it’s my mission to help others from suffering like I did and from having their childhood issues affect their adult lives.

I know that child victims of neglect or abuse grow up to either be abusers or rescuers. Before I had kids, I was always a rescuer. But after 3 kids in 3.5 years, one with emotional and behavioral problems, without conscious effort and determination NOT to become one, I would have ended up an abuser. For a while, all my intelligence didn’t do anything to prevent deeply embedded emotional wounds from opening up. I did go on medications for a short while, because I was a wreck and I didn’t want to hurt my children.

I should have gone to therapy, only I had worried that if I opened up all of myself, I wouldn’t have stopped, and all my stories would come out, and the therapist would have seen the anger issues I had and would have petitioned to take my kids away from me.  Or that somehow my family would find out and petition to take them away from me.

Yes, me, a loving, caring, gifted, sensitive, normally hugely empathetic person had felt quite, quite the opposite for a while. I am ashamed to say I was a raving lunatic some days. The medications helped. I went off them as soon as I got equilibrium again. But thinking of those days frighten me even now.

This is why all these posts of late have been about healing that inner child. If it just affected me and no one else, I could be content to suffer in silence for no one else would be affected. But it’s not that simple. It comes out in things I don’t mean to say – the sarcasm and thinly veiled irritation I give my husband sometimes or downright inviting him to fight with me because I have a need to fight when I am stressed and angry.

Or in the snapping at my kids for disturbing me when I’m engrossed (hyper-focused) on something I consider important. Or the irritation I express rather unkindly when they are late getting ready for school.

I wonder, really and truly, how life was like for me as a child. Was my mother as impatient and snappish when I was really little as I can be? Am I subconsciously re-living the scenarios of my early childhood? I know my middle daughter has a lot of similar temperament as I do. She taught herself to read, as I did. She called up in me the most visceral reactions when she had her tantrums and meltdowns. I wonder if I was like that when I was her age. I wonder how my mother treated me and if it plays into the reactions I had when dealing with her.

I have vague recollections of my years between 3 and 5 (the most difficult years for my middle daughter so far). There are a scant few memories of that time. My mother divorced when I was 2 and remarried when I was 5. I wish I could go back to that time and see how I was as a child, and how my mother interacted with me and my sisters. I know, from talking with my sisters, that we three seemed to cause trouble a lot.

I have a few memories of myself as a little girl, and some artificial memories created out of pictures I have seen of me as a child that young. But I don’t have any recollections of my mother of those days.

I wonder why that is. Did I blank those memories out? I remember a few parties, a few children that came to play with us. I remember slamming my hand through a storm door window and the chunk of glass embedded in my wrist. I still have that scar, and I’m 39. I remember slamming my sisters hand in the car door accidentally. I remember also biting her in the butt (for some reason).

I remember accidentally pooping in my litte pink short pants, when I was 4 or 5…and going to the bathroom to take them off and clean myself up before my mom found out because I was afraid of what my mother would do. But I don’t remember my mom’s reactions to any of those incidents.

I remember one reaction my mother had. I was about 5 when I was standing at the top of the stairs, on the green shag carpeting, and saying “shit” to my mother (why I don’t know) and her coming up the stairs and washing my mouth out with soap.

I desperately wish I could be hypnotized so that maybe I could access those memories.  I wonder what I would discover about myself and my mother. I wonder if it would explain those visceral reactions I got to my own daughter’s meltdowns.


About that anger thing…

It turns out – as I am learning from another book called Anger: Deal with It, Heal With It, Stop It From Killing You by William Gray Defoore, MD – that anger does live in the body and needs physical release.   A person with unhealed childhood/adolescent abuse has a lifetime of anger absorbed into themselves.  Burying the anger, rationalizing it away, even “forgiving” the persons who hurt you does nothing to release it.   It stays with you until you re-live it and release it through safe physical means.   When I told this to an email friend of mine he said,

Yeah…I wonder why this is so obvious and accepted with other stored/repressed emotions & thoughts but anger gets this weird treatment. I mean, we don’t think that we can “talk out” our need for affection (or sex), right?

That is so true. I do feel better after giving physical expression to my affections, definitely for sex, and anger is not much different.

My goal is to work through this book alongside the book on narcisstic mother book. I’m pretty much done having anger control me at times rather than the other way around.

This entry was posted in abuse, highly sensitive child, highly sensitive mom, Intensity, loss of parental love, motherhood, my stories, personal growth, personal issues. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to I wish I could access those early memories

  1. HeatherB says:

    Really, you too? That’s what I feel like saying after every paragraph of your blog! Sometimes, I feel like I am the only person like this. That introspective type who really yearns for enlightenment. I am becoming so curious about you! So much of what you are writing sounds just like me, and I don’t come across people like me often…if ever. I also don’t have many memories of childhood, just pieces and mental pictures that I’m not sure are real or created. My mom was an alcoholic and it wasn’t until I was in therapy a couple of years ago that my therapist told me she thought my mother had Borderline Personality Disorder. I have been in therapy many times over the past 15 years and no one ever suggested that until now. I read a fascinating book called “Understanding the Borderline Mother.” Lots of narcissism going on there with her and with my grandmother as well. Just today I have been sucked back into their world and am very heavy hearted about having to deal with them again. I feel like a teenager again, and that is no fun at all! I look forward to reading the book you mentioned on anger. Keep on writing–you are helping people out here in the cyber world!

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Heather –

    I’m glad my stories speak to you. It helps me to feel I’m not alone in wanting to re-visit the past and work on my stuff. I’ve been a “functional” adult for the most part, but in the ways I haven’t been have been because of those deeply embedded and conditioned responses to stress.

    I’d wondered about my mother and at least one of my sisters having BPD as well. I don’t know, though. I know of some instances where I thought, how could it *not* be something like that. I do know, that when my younger sister went on some anti-anxiety meds because her house fire was stressing her out a lot, she was a lot more calm and fun to be around.

    As far as my grandmother goes – oh vey. My mother is “stuck” caring for her now as she is an only child and my grandmother is getting senile (she’s 94). My mother is on the receiving end of some bad treatment by my grandmother. I kind of feel sorry for my mom, because my grandmother wasn’t too kind to my mom growing up and now she’s being mean to my mom again. I bet my mother is re-living a lot of her childhood pain too. But my mom is not the introspective type or the type to think she needs therapy to help straighten it all out.

    I’ll try and find that book and just see if I see anything applicable to my situation. Just because I’m curious.

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to be sucked back in to family drama. It’s like quicksand, isn’t it? The more you try to get out, the more they pull you in again.

    Good luck with that and stay strong.


    • HeatherB says:

      Thank you for the encouragement with the family drama. I was affirmed, by my dad, today that I am not the only one who thinks mom and gramma act in extremely irrational ways. Sometimes I feel like it must be ME who is the crazy one!

      As for the book, Understanding the Borderline Mother, I think if nothing else, you would find it interesting. I think as far as BPD, my mom is probably mild. She wasn’t quite Mommy Dearest, but getting there. And there are four types of mothers with BPD–The Waif, The Hermit, The Queen and The Witch. All share some qualities, but differ in important ways. And again, it’s just nice to know that you’re not the only one who grew up with a mother who was “off.” There have been enough of these mothers out there to make a book out of it, with four separate categories! If you read it, let me know what you think! I’d be interested on your take on it, since I don’t know anyone else who has a reason to pick it up!

      Happy day!


      • raisingsmartgirls says:

        Hmm…there is a copy of it at my local library. I’ll check it out tomorrow.

        I know I have always been interested in my family’s dynamics. I’ve been analyzing their behavior for a long time.

        I’ve likened life in my family to the tyrannical rule of totalitarian regimes. My high school history class was one of the first places I felt I empowered…because as I was studying rulers like Hitler, I kind of felt like I was understanding my mother’s behavior.

        She was in some ways, a megalomaniac – having an overwhelming and excessive preoccupation with her own importance. One time I told her that Jesus would have a hard time with something she’d done. She looked at me, scoffed, and said, “yeah, right”. Now, I’m not the most faithful of Christians, but even I would not be so bold as to say something like that.

        The most difficult part of it all, she seemed, sometimes, to be so rational, so “normal”, sometimes. Then, bam…she’d turn into this irrational person. And my oldest sister followed in her footsteps. And later, so did my younger sister. They’d be ganging up on me and they convinced me at times that I was the one who had it all wrong, that I was the crazy in need of help.

        There was major projection of their stuff onto me. Telling me I was bi-polar and such. That’s how I know that I was not crazy. They were the only ones in my life to ever utter that phrase to me. Any counselor or therapist I visited (not many, but there were about 3 for different reasons), told me I was very insightful and articulate.

        My family is not that bad now…well they still have their drama from time to time. But for the most part, they dropped a lot of it. I think, for some of us, we just stopped playing along and we learned to walk away before the crazy-making got out of hand. It’s hard to argue with someone who’s not in the room, ya know?

    • HeatherB says:

      I’m replying to this, because I can’t reply to your message below, but I was intrigued by some things that you wrote to both me and your MomGail!

      Do you think that some of the drama with your mom and sisters stemmed from competition? I can’t imagine there being three daughters vs. my mom. My grandma was an actress/model socialite and then my mom was homecoming queen turned alcoholic, and I know there was competition between them, and my mom carried it down to us in bizarre ways. After I left home at 17, my step-dad paid my rent the summer between my first and second year of college, JUST so I wouldn’t come home. He was not a bad guy, but he could not handle my mother when I was living there. My half brother, 10 years younger, did not suffer as much as I did at the hands of my mom. She was still not a good mom, but not abusive to him like me.

      My life has not been so serene as it has been the past two years since I moved 500 miles away. And I have had a rough couple of years dealing with motherhood, but it’s so much better without the entanglement of my mom and gramma. I am relieved to not be in the drama, but now that I’m away, I have time to be sad about what my kids are missing out on, what I missed out on as a child. It’s incredibly sad, but it beats the drama!

      It’s interesting what you wrote about Jesus. Is your mom a Christian? My grandmother is a born-again Christian of 25 years, and I became a Christian about 12 years ago. Part of the problem I’m having right now is my grandmother’s attitude and behavior is so “unchristian.” And what I realize is that she never behaves like a christian with her family. I am a committed believer, and I do not believe that christians are perfect.at.all. But this woman is so bitter and judgmental, I am wondering what she learns at church each week! Her self-centeredness just pushes out all of the good, I think. How else can you know God, and then treat your family like garbage. Uck…..anyways. 🙂

      I don’t even know if I’ve written about what I wanted to, but I do really enoy reading about you and relating to you.


      • raisingsmartgirls says:

        Heather –

        Thanks so much. I really enjoy hearing your stories and relating to you and learning from you!

        Actually, there were a total of 4 girls, three of whom were conceived with my with biological dad, then one more (and a brother) conceived with my step-dad.

        Yes, much competition. The two most competitive children were my oldest sister and my youngest sister. Oldest sister was the prettiest, most popular, in gymnastics and the swim team, and flaky as dandruff, but extremely nasty. Youngest sister was the sick one…her drama came from multiple illnesses. She’s been in the ER more times than I can count. She was also very nasty, not just to us, but her friends too. But because of her being in “generation Y” she would use e-mail to spread her nastiness.

        Me and the next oldest sister was the most un-dramatic. She was more “live and let live” though. I was always going in to fight everyone else’s battles because I saw people that were hurting each other. I tried to get everyone to act reasonably. Most times they turned on me. Eventually (just a few years ago) I stopped trying to save everyone. They have to fight their own battles now.

        My mom was…is…Catholic. Well, she is in name only. She would drag us to church for 7:30 mass faithfully every Sunday morning (to get it out of the way), and then sometimes she’d step out of church and we wouldn’t get out of the parking lot before she swore.

        Her credo…”do as I say, not as I do”.

        But as far as my mom goes…it has a lot to do with money/power/control. She likes it, has some of them, but always wanted more.

        I asked my husband if she thought my mother was intelligent/shrewd. His almost instant response, “She likes to think she is”.

        Needless to say, it’s been something I’ve thought about for many, many years, trying to figure it out.

        In part, because of all these issues, I have struggled with “organized religion”. I am spiritual, I believe we have an obligation to make this life as good as we can make it for others, and an obligation to help our fellow man, woman or child.

        I want to believe there is a God, and there is a reason specifically I was born, and to this specific family, and that I will see those I love again after I die. I fear that maybe I won’t.

        I was wayward for a while…lost in things I shouldn’t have been, which makes me wonder where I will end up if there indeed is a God. I hope that all my efforts now make up for those times I failed miserably and hurt others.

        I’m going to turn this into a post of it’s own, so I can hopefully explore this in more detail.

  3. Krissy says:

    I find that processing childhood issues out loud helps me more than doing it quietly and every time someone agrees or reacts positively it is a huge step forward. I’m a big fan of blogging as therapy. 🙂

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Krissy –

    I do appreciate the feedback that blogging allows. I used to journal, somewhat. But I found the hardest part about doing that was no input from other sources. I wanted people to know what was on my mind and in my heart and what others thought about what I had felt.

    What was worse, my SISTER found my journal and read it and told my mom I said some awful things about the family in it. It was bad…and then, she threw it in the fireplace instead of giving it back to me. That was the last journal I had been able to maintain.

    Of course, blogging didn’t exist when I was in high school/college, so I did the next best thing – write LETTERS to my friends who I could trust with my inner life. And they wrote me back really supportive things. I love them for it and it helped me feel not so isolated and alone as I processed some of the immediate concerns I had back then.

    Now I still continue to process things, but as they relate to my adult concerns, my mothering concerns and the hopes and worries I have about my own girls as I try and figure out how to support them in ways my own mother never could for me.

    Blogging is great therapy and a window into another person’s mind and soul. I love the exchange of ideas and the encouragement to others it brings. I love the people I meet through blogging almost even better than meeting them in real life sometimes…because many people have too many masks on and can’t or won’t let others in too closely. Blogging certainly cuts to the heart of a person, can’t it?

  5. Mom Gail says:

    Hi My lovely daughter,
    I’m going to send you some information that we get here @ the hospital. Or you can just Google: SAMHSA, OR CMHS
    There is a lot of info about alot of the mental disorders that I deal with on a daily basis. Also some possible tools to learn to understand and recover
    I’m doing a double tonight and I am so tired. Will try to call sunday. I love you

  6. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Hi Mom Gail

    (by the way, can’t you be my mom for real, and the other one be the step-mom?)

    I hope you get some rest. I am looking forward to talking with you. I’m going to try and put together some questions for you, asking you about how I was as a child. I remember doing fun things with you and Dad all the time when we were on visitation with you and him.

    I remember the potato pancakes we ate at your house, the bowling, going to the drive-in movies, going to great grandma’s house with the outdoor toilet and the cricket that got into my pants when we were walking along the dirt road). I don’t remember doing things WITH my bio mom. Don’t get me wrong, she took us places, but only because she wanted to be there, because her friends were there, not because she wanted to do things with us.

    I remember being withdrawn and moody most times when I went to visit relatives on my step-dad’s side. I sat by myself, reading books rather than interacting with the step-cousins.

    I remember my mom getting into arguments with almost every member of my step-dad’s side at one time or another, getting into vicious arguments with my step-dad and using my half-brother and half-sister as pawns in their arguments. And getting into very bad arguments about the way each one of us kids were living our lives and the choices we made. I always intervened on my siblings behalf – I got in the middle of fights between my mom and step-dad, I took my baby sister to a counselor once because she needed to talk to someone “outside the family” when she was 5 and I was 18, and my other siblings to, when my mother was abusive towards them because of their significant others.

    She’s not nearly as bad as she once was, but I always felt her to be self-centered, very strong-willed, very judgmental, very nasty behind other people’s back (but sweet to their faces), and was very, very hypocritical. She could be involved in a terrible fight with us kids, but if that phone rang, she would act totally calm.

    She’s different now, but because of health reasons. I think she doesn’t feel as invincible anymore. Somehow that humbled her enough to drop the act. Or maybe it was because grandpa died and his choke-hold over her life dissipated some so she could relax a bit.

    Speaking of which, even grandpa thought she was being extremely unreasonable and got mad at her lots of times for being so darn stubborn and hurtful.

    I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bitter against my mom. I’m not. I’m very saddened that my life continues to be affected by the past, and I really do have a lot of empathy for who she is. Empathy in the sense that she doesn’t know what she did, and a lot of it was because of the issues between her, grandma and grandpa. And well…for whatever reason, dad and mom must have loved each other enough to get married despite grandpa’s and grandma’s disapproval of it. I heard that grandma treated my mom badly for a while – I think because she was jealous of the relationship grandpa had with her. And then mom married dad against their wishes, then had us kids, then grandma supposedly treated us or my badly because that. I don’t know…I’m not certain what is factual and what is not.

    In my mind, I think that mom married dad in an act of rebellion. She must have been attracted to dad enough to
    go against her family like she supposedly did.

    Maybe dad was like Paul for me (my first love). Mom hated Paul because he looked so much older (he was 18, but looked in his 20s) and because he was a carny and looked like a “bad boy” (well, during the summers he did work at a carnival, but during the school year he was a Catholic school boy). To me, Paul was exciting, and had a great body (back then anyway) and he was very kind and loving. Sometimes I think Paul might have reminded her of Dad. Maybe that’s why she hated him so much and did everything in her power to keep me away from him (even stealing a few of his letters when he wrote me from the Navy – which is why I rented a P.O. Box). But then again, she was also like that with most of my boyfriends, except one or two (like my husband when we were dating until he helped me move out of the house when I was 24).

    I don’t know…sorry for getting sidetracked. One day I’m going to write a story about all of this. Just to document it.
    I’ve been wanting to do this for many years. I’ve written parts of it already, I just don’t have all the facts about my mother pinned down.

  7. Mom Gail says:

    Hi my beauty,
    I may not be your blood, but in my heart you & your sisters have always been my daughters. I couldn’t love you more if I gave birth to you. I have always felt that way, even when there was no communication. We tried to keep in touch but most of the time we were told that you weren’t there, or you didn’t want anything to do with us. When you hear that enough, you finally start believing it.
    I’m so sorry.
    I Love you more than you will ever know.
    I’ll talk with you soon!

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