(My mother told me that) I am:
Ugly. Greedy. Too plump here. Fat.
Pretending. Deceiving. Manipulating.
Pretending to be a little girl. Doing my act.
Punishing. Getting my own back. Repeatedly Punishing.
Holding her in chains since I was a baby.
Not supposed to be crying. Look who should be crying, she’s the one who should be crying. [And she was – and shouting and screaming and ridiculing and sneering and shaking me and throwing glass…]
Going to make her have a heart attack.
Wearing her out. She’s lying on the floor unable to move because of what I’ve done. [I called out and nobody would come. ..]
Going to make my dad so upset he’ll have a car accident. He’s lying on the floor curled in a ball unable to breathe. Because of me. That’s what I’ve done to him.
Going to come down the stairs one morning and find her … [dead – I will not write here the graphic description she made].
A silly little thing.
Madam treating everyone like servants. Reclining like an emperor on the cushions.
A baby that has to go on a walking rein. To show everyone what a baby I am.
Repeatedly Punishing. ..
A threat to her personal safety. Putting her in hospital. The reason she goes into hospital because I frightened her so much. God help anyone I ever work with.
Impossible to live with.
When I’ve got what I want…
Reacting so weirdly to everything and I have to remember how all my reactions are weird and the damage I’m causing to the family.
Getting too much fat again.
Demonstrating that I’m damaged.
Leaving things hidden in places so that she finds them so as to show her that I’m damaged.
Pretending ( – I’ve already told her!)
A genius. Nobody is able to understand my incredible intelligence. She planned the moment of my conception and the moment of my birth. She wrote freedom into my very name. I was a genius and they could not cope with my intelligence. I was going to change the world.
Aware of her every thought and she knew exactly mine. Knew everything she was saying (on the phone to someone else). Knew exactly what she wanted.
Wearing her out( – look at her with 4 children and look at what my one’s done to me! )
Stopping her ever having any more children.
Causing the end of her and my father’s marriage.
Pretending to be…
Testing. Testing the testers. Objecting to the test.
Those are just some of the things my mother (with her psychosis and disordered and abusive, the doctors said) told me I am.
(She’d ask) what if:
Anyone from the government is watching?
The police are going to be called?
Anyone can see what you’re doing?
Anyone found out?
Anyone saw [what you can’t do]… are you very worried about the effects of your pretending. ..at how bad you ate at x … (you must remember you’re a whole school year older. ..stop associating with the little ones. ..)
If anyone found out. She’d be taken away. My father woUld be taken away. I’d be sent to a special school for morons. If anyone found out, they’d never imagine it was all because of me. They’d think it was her. Nobody would realise it was actually me. But I’d know and she’d know it was actually me. And she’d be taken.
So we had to cover it up.
Those were some of her ‘what if’ threats.
He (Father) agreed. Can’t you see how much you’re upsetting her? Look how much she’s smoking because of you. Stop snivelling like that. That’s what people do when they’ve had something really bad happen to them. Could you actually make a bit more effort? Is mummy even in the room to you? He’d sit there hugging her and stroking her feet and nobody would help me whilst I was crying and terrified and didn’t know how to end it. This was the first day I felt I didn’t need to phone up to see how you were getting on with each other. Now look what I’ve found out. Why were you pretending? Where is she? What are you doing in here? Look how exhausted she is because of what you’ve done. She wouldn’t have to go to bed all day if you didn’t do these things. We could have had a nice day if you hadn’t done that.
She’s very lovely, he’d say. Isn’t mummy lovely? She’s very good at all of this… She’s amazing when she does that…isn’t that fantastic. ..
And he says he didn’t know what she was doing.
The threats and what ifs and horrible things I was, stopped for a while when I was anorexic. That was all. At least then the anorexia and my body was all mine and in me it was hurting, cleaner, safer, nothing, numb but burning, longing but cutting off, hidden, weakening, less, smaller, not, not needing. As soon as I got stronger it all came back and all the horror too. I was the problem and the evil one again.
So I am – evil, dangerous, liar, fake, deceitful, hurt people, going to cause the greatest harm, greedy, ugly, selfish, nasty, like a ruler with people in chains, disgusting, foul… all without knowing the harm I’m doing. I didn’t know it then when I was a child but it still happened and all this awful damage erupted from me, she said.
How did I stop them coming to take her because of me? How did I keep her alive? She didn’t give me care. I didn’t need care from her. I learned to manage without. All I needed was to stop the damage and awful things I was doing.
Ironically I did end up having to actually call them to take her! They did take her as she’d threatened. And they did say it was her with the problem and the illness and being abusive. And they did say it couldn’t possibly be me. So everything she said would happen, did. And that was to be when she and I would know it was all because of me.
Oh yes – I know it. It never leaves.
So cut cut cut and purge and punish myself and maybe I’ll get all the badness out or else keep it all in and hurt only me.
When I controlled enough in anorexia all the evil seemed to have stopped. But I can’t get back there.
I still hear it and believe it all even though I’ve started to feel angry in the moments my rational mind tells me how it was twisted and wrong and she did what she liked and he let her do it all to me.
And I can’t even write yet about … those other times. In front of the mirror. In the bed. With the bathroom. Telling me how I liked it.
4 thoughts on “I am…. (she said)”
I’m so sorry you had to live through such horror and abuse. I know you must re-live it and believe it. Your mother was a very sick person and your father was trying to find a way to appease her. It’s terrifying that they put you in the middle with no love. I hope through your therapy you can come to terms with the fact that whatever she said is untrue. She was sick. You were none of those things. You were just an innocent child. Keep telling yourself that. I know you’re trying. Keep trying.
Cathy, thank you so very very much. Somehow, I know that you understand completely. There is so much I would want to write to you right now in response to your comment and I am sorry that I do not know how to put it down right now. I will work out how to get it down and reply to you properly. Thank you very very much.
Very sadly I have no relationship with my mother at the present. My relationship with my dad is very complicated. I need to find the way forward there. We both do. I am thankful that there were good times with my dad when I was a child, when my mother was not there, and that now there is love there despite the very conflicting feelings.
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Just keep reminding yourself it’s not true. Say it like a mantra. It’s not true…It’s not true….
Thank you. And perhaps I will come to believe it is not true, eventually. I think one of the reasons it is hard to really believe is because she said that everyone would tell me it wasn’t true but even so she and I would know it really was. She so much twisted everything.
But you are right the more we do say something we may come to believe it. That must be how I so fully came to believe my mother’s version of the truth at first. A priest I went to for advice once told me that I should memorise a short passage of the Bible (or I guess one could use any other book one finds helpful) which tells me about trust, hope and the fact that I am good not bad. And whenever I have an obsessional thought or a frightening memory of what she told me, I should repeat this passage to myself. It will take a long time but eventually, what this good passage tells me will have been thought more often than the obsessional thought and will start to replace it.
I should make a conscious effort again to do that more. I did do it and it helped but then when I had CBT I was told to stop because it was a ‘distraction technique’ and meant I was trying to run away from the situation I was in. I stopped it, along with several other techniques I had developed to cope.
I am not a psychologist however I believe that what I was told in CBT about these specific things was not helpful for me. DBT, which is recommended for personality disorders, rather than CBT, actually involves distraction techniques in a positive way to regulate emotions.
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