THIS IS GOING TO BE LONG. I AM SORRY.
I have so much to say right now but I can’t because I’m in shock (a good kind). I had a sudden breakthrough that explains everything or a lot anyway. I know I have a lot of things to work on and probably a lot more traumatic incidents from childhood but I remembered this and it is a biggie, maybe a core memory that got occluded (though not entirely blocked, just not FELT until tonight). Since I can’t write normally I’m just going to do it as a list of events right now. I can’t even see straight because the tears keep rolling.
A few things to keep in mind…
1. It did happen when I was around 6 (an age which I have referred to over and over again in this blog, based on a “feeling”)
2. It was because of my mother — now I can see exactly what she was trying (maybe unconsciously because of her own issues) to do to me because of the kind of child I was.
3. It’s interesting that I mentioned I feel more emotionally vulnerable when I’m sick — you will understand why if you read all this. (I do not believe it was Munchhausen’s by Proxy however)
4. My true self / inner child that I pictured a few weeks ago as one of those big eyed children paintings from the 1960’s could not be more perfect as a visual of the child I used to be.
5. I have always been an HSP and that may explain the abuse and the chain of events that led to my shutting off almost ALL my feelings. That’s a complete lie because that sensitive child was always INCREDIBLY strong– or had the potential to be… but it was squelched.
Timeline of what happened to me.
Here is the chain of events as they unfolded. I may be missing some; I’m overwhelmed in every good way so my brain isn’t working quite right but I also feel incredibly blessed because I think God stepped in and made this happen because I was ready. I think it’s a kind of miracle, an Easter gift because I reached out to God in my moment of terror and pain (which only lasted about one hour) and also asked for forgiveness of my serious and rather frequent doubts. I think I’ll question my faith less now, though I can’t promise I won’t still have doubts and fall short of perfect faith. (
1. I was in a very good mood today though still feeling poorly from the flu bug I got a week ago (from my therapist — oh, the irony!) I came home and made a few posts. I felt excited for my friend Mary whose band is doing so well and they have a new song that’s getting lots of Youtube views. I talked to my son who will be visiting for 4 days the first week of next month. The weather was perfect in every way and I took some photos.
2. Around 8 PM I started to feel very achy and feverish. At first I thought it was just the virus giving me a last minute “finger” before it finally exited my body. I took some Tylenol and drank a large glass of orange juice with about 1000mg of vitamin C and made some tea.
3. An hour later, I felt much worse. I had bad chills, shaking and could hardly stand. I felt dizzy and a little delirious. Even though the evening is warm, even turning the heat up to full blast wasn’t helping at all and I felt my fever continue to climb. I tried to take it but kept dropping the thermometer, but I know it had to be very high. I tried to get warm but could not. I took some deep breaths but all that did was make my hands go numb and make me start coughing up residue from the bug. I started to feel nauseous. I tried to stand up and couldn’t keep my balance; and fell back into bed. I tried to get comfortable but could not. Thoughts of pneumonia played through my head. Maybe I was going to die. I’m terrified of dying. Maybe it was finally going to happen. I was going to die before I ever lived.
4. I panicked and dissociated badly. I felt like I was out of my body. I bit my hands and whimpered to hold back the panic. What the hell was happening to me?
5. I thought about going to the hospital but decided to turn to God instead. I shut my eyes tight and prayed and prayed and prayed. I begged forgiveness for having such weak faith. I begged him not to let me die. I wasn’t ready yet.
I didn’t know it yet, but I was experiencing a somatic reliving of past events. Freud called this phenomenon “conversion.”
Transported into the abyss
6. I had a sudden image of myself as a 6 year old little girl, weak and frail and pale like the picture of the child in the painting. I lay in my parent’s bed, watching cartoons on TV, all my Little Golden books and various puzzles and games and toys spread around me. She fed me soup and crackers and cookies and fussed over me and stroked my hot forehead tenderly. She looked genuinely concerned. I remember how I craved this type of attention.
These were truly the only times I felt loved by her.
7. This was not an isolated incident, this happened many times over. I was a sickly child, who suffered from frequent colds, high fevers, many allergies, all the childhood illnesses, excruciating ear-aches that left me partially deaf in my left ear to this day. I was taken to doctors who gave me allergy shots but could find nothing else seriously wrong with me.
8. In other areas too, I was encouraged to be weak or fragile. Until I was around ten, I was bullied at school and given sympathy at home. My parents used to call the bullies’ parents and tell them to leave me alone, which only made the bullying worse (kids hate other kids whose parents snitch to other parents). I wonder if this was somehow known to them. If so, it was a very covert form of gaslighting. I was chided as being “ungenteel” and “acting low class” anytime I acted too “tough” or talked back or stood up for myself, or came back with a good snarky comeback.
9. Gradually I stopped being able to be anything but a docile codependent (until my teens when I pathetically rebelled and began to act out against my parents and built a tough (and quite scary at times both to me and others) rage and an overlying emotional shell but that’s a whole different topic even though the roots of that were from the same source).
10. Gradually I got sick less, but my emotional “weakness” became more painful and dysfunctional to me as I approached my teen years. After a while of being given “sympathy” for being over-emotional, “hysterical” (my mother’s word for me) and fragile, it was gradually ripped away and I was told to “sink or swim” with no emotional tools to navigate waters that were now way too dark and deep.
11. I was discouraged in subtle ways for doing things on my own that showed strength or independence. Drawing pictures and writing little books and playing with dolls and even being a good student was “okay” because a weak child could still be good at these things. At age 11 or 12 I wanted to join the swim team and while I wasn’t outright forbidden, I was told I wouldn’t like it because “it’s too competitive for you,” or worse, putting words in my mouth (“you KNOW you don’t like competition!”) I joined anyway but had self doubts all that summer. It was still a positive experience, but not nearly enough to rebuild my sense of self and ability to be an achiever. There were many other things I was also discouraged or even forbidden from doing, because of the tough image I wasn’t allowed to display. I won’t list them all here but trust me, this was a constant in my late childhood.
This is getting too long, so let me wrap this up.
12. I remembered all this and realized God had given me the gift of clarity and further insight into my mental illness (whatever it really is). I asked and it was given. I began to cry. Then an amazing thing happened. The fever broke and the physical pain disappeared! I suddenly felt a lot better!
13. Emotions are energy moving through or out of the body, and I realized what happened. My body RE-LIVED (truly FELT, not just thought about) the somatic experience of being a helpless, sick, feverish child. I suddenly had a memory of myself feeling that sick as a young child, like I was going to die, and being reassured and fussed over by my mother. Sickness and weakness was the only thing I was ever truly mirrored or emotionally rewarded for. All my life I’ve been craving that kind of care but I’ve run away from it too, because it proved to be dangerous. I had nothing to replace it with.
14. Approaching adolescence, I was no longer “rewarded” either at home or at school for being sickly/weak. The tables were cruelly turned on me and I was told to sink or swim. But inside, I was in excruciating pain.
15. I became codependent, searching for the “perfect parent” who I never really had.
16. Over the years, my pain got more deeply buried and I further added to this massive defense. At a certain point I became unable to feel much of anything. The stakes were too high.
17. When I was abandoned by family of origin, it was for the very same things I was doted on for as a young child (being a “weak loser”) How crazymaking and evil is that? Inside, I always felt that way (and my life circumstances reflected that). But on the outside, I had to hide my “weakness” to survive. It never worked out too well for me though.
17. Everything I’ve been talking about and feeling in therapy lately was leading to this discovery. I have a long way to go. It’s incredibly confusing. But this is a beginning. I feel like now some real heavy duty work can be done.
18. I feel physically wonderful right now. My goal is clearer– to regain my HSP-ness but with mindfulness and wisdom and control (not a false self!)
ETA: I still feel unwell today, but nowhere near as bad as last night for that hour I thought I was dying. This stupid bug does not want to go away!