I both appreciate and detest this article for it’s truthfulness and validity. When I think of what it means, I feel like I can barely breathe. Invisible hands close around my throat – it can’t possibly be all that simple, can it? Can it?
This is much of the premise of my therapy Integrated EMDR for CM. When I met Shanna a few months ago, she stated the premise of the article as casually as describing the weather. I was doubtful. It couldn’t be that simple – could it? What about genetics? Illness? Diseases? Was it all really just from a childhood trauma? When I named the trauma to her, she didn’t blink. And she’s been only the second therapist in my life to validate my bizarre experience.
Through EMDR, there’s a plain little girl tucked into the back of the wood rectangular family dinner table. I can feel the way the table felt, I can smell it. I can see the dinnerware I ate on/drank from every night. Tucked in the back end of the table – where no one else could fit. In my large family, I would participate. I would talk and engage. But it felt like only my mouth was moving… no words, no noise – like a mute. While I wasn’t heard, I certainly wasn’t invisible… No, not at all. Had I been absent from the table, there would be hell to pay. And I was so hungry (from not being allowed to snack), I would’ve showed up to eat anything. I would be seen but not heard. When you’re born into this game, you don’t know anything else, and your whole life revolves around these basic human needs. The need to feel loved, to be acknowledged, to connect with your loved ones.
And I would go inward… Where I could be with my dreams. When you’re brought up to believe everything is your fault, you believe there’s something inherently wrong and bad about you. It would be decades before I discovered that “black thing deep inside me” that I hid from the world, was really me – the real me – and I was kind and compassionate and talented and smart and loving and curious and funny. Nothing black or evil about me at all, in fact. On the outside, I kept up the facade. And oh my, was it a lot of work. Because the rules to being the perfect daughter were always changing – that’s what they do. How can you “win” a game where the rules always change? There was this small part of me that knew something wasn’t quite right about all this… I referred to it as a bad feeling. And it would stop me in my tracks occasionally.
We all played our roles in the Game: the golden one, the scapegoat, the lost one, the funny one, the quiet passionate one, the troublemaker, the caregiver. And of course the personality disorder and a whole lot of codependency. We were pitted against one another and didn’t know it, we were pawns. The other children would be told about how great we were – it was kept a secret from us.
And now there’s this: Chronic Migraine, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sacroiliac Dysfunction, Depression and Anxiety. Do I wear my childhood as a Chronic Illness??Does that make the illnesses real or some kind of psychosomatic bullshit? And if it is the stupid ridiculous trauma, how can I fix it? Can I ever be well? Or am I made *more* well simply by the fact that I can acknowledge my childhood had a huge role to play in my Illness? And how foolish does this make me feel? How many tears are enough? When don’t he stop coming? When does the jail sentence expire? When do I allow myself freedom?
No one has answers. Or do I just not understand the answers?
There is a real reason I state adamantly that none of my children will ever develop a chronic illness. A real reason; I will never allow it to happen; and their childhood is meticulously void of the trauma I faced. They are cherished for exactly who they are, not who anyone decides they’ll be. Everyday, every single day, I strive to learn more about them, I listen to them, I ask them about their dreams and thoughts. And I know and believe with all my heart, that they are absolutely PERFECT just the way they are. They are separate individuals from me – not extensions of my life. God has blessed Marc and I with their care until they go off into this wide world to live their adventures. They saved my life, by ripping open the box of my childhood and exposing it. They made me face my demons. They helped me learn how to parent and love unconditionally. They saved me from myself and my pain. Every single day of their lives, I fret and fuss (“am I doing to them what was done to me??”)…the anxiety is incredible. I’ve been assured by many wise people: “By the simply fact you worry about this, you are NOT doing it. If you were, you wouldn’t be worrying about it.”