I wait until my kids and husband go to bed. I wait ten extra minutes just in case. Then I take my new book out of the bag: Family Violence: Legal, Medical and Social Perspectives.

It’s a textbook organized by types of violence. The only light on in the house is the one next to the sofa where I curl up to read.

I flip through pages: Neglect, sexual abuse, ritual abuse. Everything is here.

I pause at physical abuse. There are lists of signs. Inconsistent stories from caretakers. Belt marks. Hand prints.

Burns are most common for kids under three. I think of my burn. How old was I? I was older, because I could walk to the doctor’s office by myself.

I read more. Kids hurt themselves doing normal, every day activities. They bruise themselves when they bump or fall on bony parts of their body: elbow, knee, forehead. The book says to look for marks on fleshy parts where kids would not fall or bump: the underside of an arm, the area around the genitals.

I shut the book. I can’t read more. It is 11pm. I should go to bed but I can’t because I don’t know what would go through my head during that time from when my head touches the pillow and my brain goes to sleep. Anything could come up. Some nights I stay up so late, get myself so tired, that I don’t remember the moment between putting my head on the pillow and falling asleep. Those are my best nights.

I walk around the house cleaning. Waiting until I can pick up the book again. I have twenty emails to answer. I have three business plans to review. I have a magazine article to write. I am not doing that. I am doing something else, but if you asked me what I’m doing I would not know.

It’s midnight and I sit down on the sofa to read again. I flip through random spots in the book so I’m sort of reading and sort of getting ready to stop reading.

There are six pages of burns.

I stare at the pages. I have a scar from a burn. It’s so prominent that it’s on my passport as an identifying mark: on the inside of the upper right thigh. I can remember filling out the passport form. I remember one of my parents – I don’t know which one – reminding me that I can fill in the section about scars. I remember thinking I didn’t know they knew I had a scar there. Or I didn’t know we acknowledge it. I just remember thinking, really? We are going to put that on my passport?

Everyone said that the iron fell on me. I pulled the iron off the ironing board and it fell on me.

But just now, this late in life, I realize that an eight year old cannot pull an iron off an ironing board and hit the inside of her thigh. And, even if it did, somehow, hit the inside of my thigh, how could it have been there long enough to give me a third-degree burn?

I went to the doctor’s office after school for weeks. The burn was disgusting and she treated it with yellow stuff and gauze. For a few weeks, the doctor was there for me every day after school, and I got a lollipop after each redressing of the wound. If I rearranged things in my head I could tell myself that my life was getting normal because someone was meeting me after school and giving me an after school snack.

No one questioned whether or not I pulled the iron. We all just kept saying that I pulled the iron down. I do not have any idea what happened.

But here’s what I know: my ability to see abuse is really limited.

I am terrified that I have no judgement for how to parent. I’m terrified that abuse seems full of nuance and I don’t see it. I don’t understand how people learn what is abuse, and my kids are growing up. It’s getting too late.

I answer emails at 2am, 3am. My kids see me nap in the day so often that they tell people I sleep all the time.

At this point I don’t have a work schedule because I need a clear head to work, with lots of room to think, but as soon as I get that, bad thoughts might come. Which makes me almost scared to clear room in my life to do work. I walk around worrying that a thought will come up that I can’t get rid of.

But the truth is that I’m operating at about half my ability because I let myself be unproductive. I tell myself I’m special so I can stay up all night and then not function during the day. I tell myself I have that burn on my thigh. Or the scar on my eyebrow, or the nail in my heart. Whatever it is. That’s why I tell myself I don’t have to function like a normal person.

But that’s more sad than all the stories hidden in my head. The saddest story is thinking you’re special, you’re different, you’re too messed up to take responsibility for adult life. It is not interesting to be the messed up person who never goes to sleep. All people who think they’re special in their fucked-up ways are boring. They are boring because they use the idea that they are special to excuse them from meeting the regular struggles of adult life, like getting enough sleep and being accountable for a to do list.

I can only let myself buy books about family violence and tell stories about my messed up childhood if I’m not going to let it derail me. There are milestones I need to hit throughout the day: make breakfast at a normal time, don’t leave dishes in the sink. Answer the phone for a scheduled call. Meet writing deadlines. Follow through on promises to the kids even if it means playing Go Fish.

It’s so easy to say you’re different and special. It’s much harder to hold yourself to the standards most adults hold themselves to.

So what am I doing to stop acting like I’m crazy and absolved from adult life? Going to sleep before midnight. It’s a small step, but making small, intentional behavioral change is what works to create bigger, more substantive change.

 

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132 replies
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  1. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    Alain de Botton
    “Love your children and they will be able to outgrow you. Ignore your children and they will be obsessed with you for life. ”

    “Dreams reveal we never quite get ‘over’ anything: it’s all still in there somewhere.”

  2. Kay
    Kay says:

    Love this post. Love the fact that you tackled this head on in a culture where every problem is a disorder, not many people admit that this is life. I certainly went through early adulthood thinking my problems were special. But they are not. Everyone has problems, and needs to suck it up and deal with them.

  3. T- Eire
    T- Eire says:

    What a very moving insightful post. I absolutely love how descriptive your writing allows me to share your pain. I am flabbergasted at how I am stuck for words to tell you how it feels to read such raw feelings. I admire your honesty, how real it is. Wow.

  4. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Keeping secrets is the most damaging thing. It’s like poison in your veins. Glad to see that you’re getting it out – and detoxing your body and mind.

    Sending you big hugs, positive energy, and healing thoughts. And wishes for lots of sleepful nights.

  5. Daisy
    Daisy says:

    Keep going keep going keep going. “nail in my heart”….those were the words that describe my feeling…until now…no words. Get us through Penelope.

  6. Helen W
    Helen W says:

    It is so true that the key is to not be in denial about things. Those who try to bury painful memories are bound to have them creep up to affect them in terrible, subconscious ways.. I think that by reliving them, people are able to get on with things better. It is kind of like “ok, so this and that has happened to me….so now what”.

    Penelope, you are right to examine your past. Even though it screws you up at times, it gets you to the “now what”.

  7. Sara Knapp
    Sara Knapp says:

    I feel your pain. And I’m awed by your tolerance for it.

    At the same time I’m wondering what you believe a “responsible” adult to be? What are the most important things a “responsible” adult is, or does? Who says? How are you doing against these criteria? Who says?

    I offer up these questions not to be argumentative but because I’m struck by how you seem to abuse yourself by chasing ideals that you create, then measure yourself as deficient against.

    Ideals that seem to differ – often quite dramatically – from post to post. I’m wondering what might be different for you if you decided for yourself what matters most to YOU. And then owned it. And ignore other people’s choices.

    You’ve clearly done this with regards to home schooling of your children. What else does a “responsible” adult do? I suspect sleeping consistent hours won’t make it to your list. I can’t imagine any great artist – and you are a great artist – has that on their list.

    I believe abuse happens when you don’t know what matters most, and so don’t see when that is being compromised, invaded, or destroyed.

    Perhaps the greatest gift you could give yourself, and your children is to more consistently acknowledge, celebrate, defend and walk your own path. And ignore everyone else’s. Because they aren’t going where you are going. Where you can go. And where your past, your gifts, your dreams allow only you to go. Scars and all.

  8. Jenn-ski
    Jenn-ski says:

    Seeing all the compassionate outpouring of comments here versus some of the kind of mean ones about MBTI in the previous few posts is confusing. Maybe it is different people commenting? I don’t know. It is interesting to see en masse how some posts pull kindness out of people, and other posts pulls out the egos.

    I need to get smarter about that kind of stuff.

  9. Aldrea
    Aldrea says:

    This post made me finally, fully realize what’s always been in the back of my mind. I’ve been using my childhood, which was similar yours and left me with a pile of trust and social issues, as an excuse for just about every failing in my life, and it’s past time I knock that shit off. If I keep going like that, then my abusers have won, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen.

    Thank you, Penelope.

  10. Rachel L.D.
    Rachel L.D. says:

    Great post as always.

    I don’t think people avoid being responsible adults because they think their problems and abuse make them special.

    I think going through trauma at any age, the memories of it, the use of resilience and perseverance and attempting to move on in spite of it drains a person’s spirit. The energy it takes away is hard to get back.

    The question I have is how do you get back that energy, that spark, that was taken away so young. How do you help other people find that energy again, the energy that everyone is born with, but slowly slips away with every hurt?

  11. My terror of smells
    My terror of smells says:

    Is it abuse being woken in the night repeatedly gagging on smoke so thick I can’t see through it across the room because your father is too cheap to use the regular furnace to heat the home? Abuse if the sewage backs up in your basement (bedroom) soaking all your belongings repeatedly because he’s too frugal to call a plumber?

    To this day the smell of wood smoke and mold/ mildew awaken in me the rawest terror, trauma and futility.

    Is my chronic debilitating asthma my inner thigh scar?

    Your post was a kick in the gut for me Penelope.

    I too stay awake so many nights and try desperately to sleep during the day now 40+ years after this, all the while getting the kids dutifully to all their activities, as if all is well.

    Now same father who has Autism btw needs my help and the bandaid I’ve covered my wounds with for all these years keeps getting ripped off, hearing his rage over the phone as he can no longer handle his life.

    • Vee
      Vee says:

      What a moving comment! I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone thru and that the nightmare of those smells still haunts you to this day. I wish you peace.

  12. Lindsey
    Lindsey says:

    I had to get out of my inbox and come over here to tell you how much I connected to your post. It took me just about the same amount of time, 44 years to finally look behind at something that happened in my teens and see that I used that as an excuse for my behavior and lack of financial responsibility for over twenty years. I’m done. I’m not special. Its what I do today that matters.

  13. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    People don’t always learn what abuse is. Instead they are programmed by the family on how we treat one another in society. It’s a surprise to an abused or neglected person to see other families and how they do it so kindly and differently. Those are the people to emulate.

    Realizing that my story doesn’t make me special was a turning point. When I saw that everyone else was managing to go forward with any number of difficult histories, there was nothing else to do but figure out how best to do it myself.

  14. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    Thank you, Penelope. I woke up this morning feeling a bit more rested then found myself unable to get up. I stared at the ceiling, I felt like my back was glued to my bed, and all I could think of was what excuse can I use today not go to work, because I felt paralyzed again. I think a traumatic abuse over 20 years ago, which I thought I had already dealt with has been creeping back up. A couple of hours of later, I finally was able to get up. I called to schedule an appointment with a therapist and dealt with the shame of having to do so. Then I read your post and found comfort in your honesty, vulnerability, and generosity once again. Therapy…one step.

  15. Becky
    Becky says:

    There is such a resemblance between you and your son in this picture.

    I like this post because I resist brightline categories that define things like child abuse and/or domestic violence. We were all hurt by our parents and we all hurt our children at times. And lovers aren’t always kind and calm with each other.

    Recognizing the truth and reality of how we hurt those we love is one way to making our relationships more healthy. And sometimes the person we hurt most is ourselves. So good for you in taking care of yourself by getting to bed on time.

  16. Karen
    Karen says:

    Thankfully, we are not special, because otherwise how would anyone be able to help us? From my experience, self-help support groups help a lot. If you find the right one, it will be filled with other people like you trying to deal with their emotional pain while simultaneously trying to lead a normal (whatever that is) adult life. I spent about a year in one after leaving an addict-spouse that in retrospect, was so emotionally abusive that it left me believing I was the problem. It led me from barely functional, living day-to-day to a more functional person who could cope with living. It also helped me unlearn the insane coping skills I had learned in my relationship.

    Also, I know you feel like you’re not getting anything done, but emotional work is important too. Of course, the hard part is it can’t be scheduled completely (although you xan schedule self-care, therapy, group, etc. to help with it) and it’s never really done.

  17. Miss Britt
    Miss Britt says:

    “I am terrified that I have no judgement for how to parent.”

    This is why I don’t spank, or hit or even flick. I don’t know where the normal line is.

    That being said, abuse is not normal. It’s prominent, yes, as are struggles. And pretending you’re special and giving yourself excuses to not function doesn’t help. But neither, as you can tell by the fact that you’re running at half capacity, does telling yourself that abuse is normal, not that bad, or something you survived and therefore something that doesn’t need to be worried about.

    It’s a bitch to admit that childhood abuse affects as adults, but it’s easier (eventually) to admit it, face it, work through it, and be able to function at full capacity.

  18. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    …but making small, intentional behavioral change is what works to create bigger, more substantive change.

    I am currently the victim in a felony court case against my ex-boyfriend who threw me to the ground and broke my wrist. Then did it again to some other girl 10 months later, adding some bit of chasing her around with a knife just for fun. During this whole time, I have been seeing a therapist and simultaneously keeping my poised, professional facade intact. “Apparent competence” is what the pros call it. I call it “fake it til you make it.”

    Less than a month ago, my mother and I had another of our not-so-little squabbles and as I was telling her she could no longer be a part of my life if she acted this way, she blurted out the words I had heard so many times in my childhood that now as an adult I could hear with so much clarity: “When you love someone, you forgive them for things they say and do that hurt you. They shouldn’t have to apologize.”

    That’s when it hit me – I had been groomed my entire life to allow people who I loved (and who said loved me) to say and do terrible things to me over and over like a skipped record, with no remorse and no honor of my dignity as a human being. With that knowledge came great power.

    I am no one to give advice in situations such as these, but my own experience has told me that, while I am not unique in having been raised in an F-ed up family, my own path to getting into a healthier mindset is unique to me. Advice helps from others helps, but ultimately *I* am in charge of my own healing and growth. The “fake it til you make it” business? It is my way of small, intentional behavioral changes leading to bigger, substantive changes.

  19. Buttman
    Buttman says:

    I love the emotional porn you post.

    Now the other side of that thinking is nihilism. If your problems aren’t special, why would be anybody else’s? If you youself amount to nothing, why would anybody else’s? If I souldn’t have any contempt for my own problems, why should I have it for anybody else’s?

  20. tara dillard
    tara dillard says:

    Terminally Unique.

    Got it when I first heard it.

    We are all terminally unique, get over yourself already.

    Wish I had learned it earlier instead of group therapy, in my 40’s, formed by a woman named Lois.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The phrase terminally unique is so good. It applies to so much more of life – really, we cannot get help with anything if we are terminally unique because other peoples’ experiences don’t apply. It’s like living in a black hole to feel terminally unique.

      Penelope

  21. Kara
    Kara says:

    Thanks for this. Sometimes I want to scream at people because they think their problems are bad. They don’t know that I’m living a really productive adult life despite having no mentors, no parents since age 21, and coming from a family full of alcoholics in a podunk town. Then I remember Audre Lorde (slightly differently than she intended) and think to myself, there is no hierarchy of oppression. We’ve all been wronged. If you sit around counting the weight of your shit and crying because it’s so much heavier than everyone else’s, not only does no one care, but you miss out on some great stuff about your current life.

  22. Kait
    Kait says:

    This post made me re-think the whole connection between my childhood and adult life that even years of therapy could never shed any light on.
    Thank You

  23. Jenny Hatch
    Jenny Hatch says:

    I was about where you are right now ten years ago.

    Suicidal, feeling so lost, afraid of the future.

    In my kitchen one day I heard a childs voice say, You cannot kill yourself because I want you to be my Mom.

    I was floored.

    If someone in the universe felt like I could pull it together enough to give birth and nurture him to adulthood given my very incestuous background of abuse and torture, hey why not?

    My son was conceived a few short weeks after requesting I be his mother and he has been the catalyst to my healing. As he reached certain ages (8 months old it began) the floodgates of my mind opened up and memory invaded.

    With memory came healing.

    He is now ten, homeschooled, and the light in my life.

    I have healed sober, no alcohol or drugs, including very little psyche meds….and while it has been a painful journey, I like to think I am on the other side of the valley.

    Embrace the days when you only have energy to breathe in and breathe out. In the quiet comes peace.

    You can do it!

    Jenny

    PS I have four older children who are also turning out to be wonderful souls. You were put in yours sons lives for a reason.

  24. Orange Jammies
    Orange Jammies says:

    More power to you, Penelope! Adulthood is about plowing on, regardless of childhood scars–or at least functioning without incessant blame.
    Hope you get some sleep!

  25. Judy
    Judy says:

    I”m no shrink but I know this: My mom died in a car accident two days before Christmas when I was 10. The universe screwed me. I wasn’t the only kid to have lost a parent, but I was the only one I knew. It sucked. I survived. As an adult I was watching a theater production that included puppets. An adult actor picked up — and lovingly cradled — a puppet version of his child self. I found myself sobbing watching that. I spent 35 years saying “I’m OK… I’m OK” only to find myself sobbing in a black box theater. I pictured that devastated little girl and wonder how she made it through! My heart broke for her.

    Even if your childhood injuries aren’t unique, it’s OK to cradle your childhood self every so often. It beats washing dishes at 3 a.m. if nothing else.

    You sound really sad Penelope. I hope you’re OK.

  26. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Aww Penelope,

    When we are children and abuse happens, we know no better because we grew up in it, and had become desensitized to the harsh words, the hitting, yelling, crying, screaming, physical hurt.

    You poor thing. Yes, I know a few people who like to think they are special because of they’re own ‘mental’ and ‘special’ problems so that they don’t have to handle adult life like everyone else.

    My pastor told me that we al have ‘bondage’ whether it is too abuse and neglect, or past relationships/hurts. What we need to do is delete these bondages from i.e. our computers (hearts), and then delete them again forever from our harddrive (life).

    I forgave my sister for all the abuse she caused me, and mental illness, my parents for not standing up for me, and letting it happen.

    Maybe you need to get really angry at whoever abused you as a child, scream, cry, point the finger, and finally get over it, and learn that because of it, you want to help others, and you can empathsize and understand others so much better than people who did no have your childhood. And without people like you n the world, there would be nobody to help those who have also suffered from abuse in an empathetic and awesome empowering way.

    Love Melissa the girl who loves Nutella and her dogs Lucy&Buster. Xoxo

    Sincere Blessings from the heart.

  27. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Aww Penelope,

    When we are children and abuse happens, we know no better because we grew up in it, and become desensitized to the harsh words, the hitting, yelling, crying, screaming, physical hurt.

    You poor thing. Yes, I know a few people who like to think they are special because of they’re own ‘mental’ and ‘special’ problems so that they don’t have to handle adult life like everyone else.

    My pastor told me that we al have ‘bondage’ whether it is from abuse and neglect, or past relationships/hurts. What we need to do is delete these bondages from i.e. our computers (hearts), and then delete them again forever from our harddrive (life).

    I forgave and accepted my sister for all the abuse and mental illness she caused me, my parents for not standing up for me, and letting it happen.

    Maybe you need to get really angry at whoever abused you as a child, scream, cry, point the finger, and learn that because of it, you want to help others, and you can empathsize and understand others so much better than people who did not have your childhood, that your heart can go and give THAT MUCH DEEPER LOVE because it’s been hurt that much deeper than most others. And without people like you in the world, there would be nobody to help those who have also suffered from abuse in an empathetic and awesome empowering way.

    Love Melissa the girl who loves Nutella and her dogs Lucy&Buster. Xoxo

    Sincere Blessings from the heart.

  28. Rebecca@MidCenturyModernRemodel
    Rebecca@MidCenturyModernRemodel says:

    Hi, just caught this. Really, really good writing for starters. My favorite part is the no excuses. Seriously, none. I like that. I don’t allow myself excuses for the f-d up stuff so I respect that you feel the same way. And Rome wasn’t built in a day. One small goal like get to bed at midnight is a start.

  29. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    Penelope, I agree that your and my problems are not unique, but in my experience the path for trauma healing does have to be an individualized do-it-yourself combination of a thousand different things:

    books, moments in relationship, risky in-person honesty, moments focusing on bodily sensation possibly while receiving touch, sitting with the protective confusion along with another person, giving touch, refusing touch or connection or vulnerability, crying, disinhibition, relaxation, self-affirmations, regressing back into the planning cocoon and seeing what it is, clarity, freedom, listing fears, throwing away tons of items on to-do lists, and a little bit of writing new to-do lists.

    Trauma healing is like homeschooling your own inner child — how about that metaphor.

  30. Maureen Sharib
    Maureen Sharib says:

    “I am terrified that I have no judgement for how to parent. I’m terrified that abuse seems full of nuance and I don’t see it. I don’t understand how people learn what is abuse, and my kids are growing up. It’s getting too late.”

    I’m thinking this is what most terrifies you. All it makes you, Penelope, is a good mother.

  31. AMK
    AMK says:

    Let yourself remember the hidden stories. It is a very painful and often long process, but it is liberating and ensures that one sees and thinks more clearly. It appears your mind is using a great deal of energy trying to keep things locked up and the old means by which you use to be able to keep them hidden away doesn’t work anymore.

  32. Kay
    Kay says:

    I admire the people who are saying you’re special because you are you and you are healing and everything else.

    But I jumped for joy reading this post. I jumped because you are so right!

    When you allow yourself to not sleep or sleep in the middle of the day or not work full time because you are damaged, you cheat yourself. The abuser keeps abusing you. You’re not stopping their lives by stopping yours.

    If I spend the rest of my life terrified of sex, is my rapist bothered? Probably not. He wasn’t concerned when I was under him and screaming in terror. He punched me in the face and shut me up. I can live with him every day by living in an open wound that he caused or I can say, yes, I was wounded but I’m not defined by my wounds. When a sound or a phrase brings those days back, I can breathe, I can count, I can stand firmly in the present and remind myself that I survived and I am going to thrive and telling myself that I don’t need to perform because I am wounded hurts no one but me.

    Problems are not precious. Lessons and the strength to make peace with our pasts, and our problems and to go on and be joyful despite the roads we took to get to fulfillment, those things are precious.

    This is the first post of yours that I’ve read and it was brilliant. I know many people who could learn from you. The past will not happen any differently, but don’t let the past poison your todays and tomorrows.

  33. Reggie
    Reggie says:

    but why do we always end up messed up? Because we drift through life. And when we drift we feel that we can be more and that we are special, just that no one has noticed it yet. The minute we stop drifting we realise how we are like everyone else. That we are accountable for our decisions and that living life without drifting is the only life that can make us truly happy.

    Growing Up means being accountable and not being special.
    http://growingupproject.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/work-do-you-drift-through-life/

  34. downfromtheledge
    downfromtheledge says:

    I think what that book was able to give you…what writing this post has given you…is validation. Which is kind of dumb because of course I have no idea whether it did any such thing….

    But to see our experiences reflected back to us, to understand fully that this happened, and that’s what it was, and this is what it looked like…I don’t know. It’s almost like the years of INvalidation, of having it swept under the rug, or denied, or lied about – turns into this crazy obsession to find something we can put our hands on that verifies and articulates and explains.

    And yet, isn’t it funny how, once we get that little moment, we just as quickly realize that we have to get back to the business of living, and that we still don’t have an easier way to do that.

    • Marie
      Marie says:

      Melissa, I think your comment was very slow to post and so you thought it didn’t go up. In fact, I think if you are the Melissa above, it posted twice! Double the love.

  35. m.
    m. says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time – your tendency to see things/situations from a different angle than most appeals to me. This is the first time that I’ve commented.

    My mother was a victim of childhood abuse. Growing up, I always knew that things had happened, and that it affected her deeply. She was deeply distrustful of men, and experienced night terrors. It was never discussed, just left unsaid. Last year, at 55, she finally started seeing a therapist and acknowledged her experiences. Turns out that she had kept it from my father, even, which surprised me. Like my sister and I, he knew but didn’t ‘know’. Mom grew up poor, with a mysogonist alcoholic father and an emotionally detached, selfish mother. She was one of many children, and suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of her older brother. She’s has a number of health issues – skeletal disorders due to poor nutrition, anxiety, nerve disorders, digestive challenges. Many of these can be attributed to her childhood experiences. Some of the things she revealed shocked me – I’d never imagined it had been that terrible. That she was able to become such an effective and productive adult and mother says a great deal about her character.

    My mom had her safety, security and sense of trust violated on a daily basis by those entrusted – legally and morally – to protect her. She fought with the ghosts of those experiences for almost 40 years, alone. The transformation in the last year has been amazing. It’s as though the truth has allowed her to feel her self-worth.

    My point is this – your children know, they just might not ‘know’. You should consider telling them a version of the truth that you know they can handle. It will change the way they see you, in that it humanizes you…but you’re human. Mom wasn’t broken, but she was a bit dented…I wish I had understood why. She would have made a lot more sense to me.

    Your problems aren’t problems, they’re struggles that have defined your character and will continue to do so. Your burden as a survivor is to ensure that it’s a positive defintion. I wish you the best of good wishes for your journey. For what it’s worth, my mom has found yoga and the realization of childhood dreams to be helpful.

  36. Marie
    Marie says:

    Penelope, I don’t have nearly the traumatic experiences that you have had, but I suffer similarly. Can’t go to sleep until late, or I wake with humiliations over things poorly done that my brain has unearthed while I slept. Some innocuous things bring up tears. It’s embarrassing and inexplicable. I can’t explain it; therapy hasn’t touched it. I know something is buried deeply down there, but I’m happy to just distract myself and keep taking care of my life. Too much rumination keeps me stuck, keeping me thinking I’m too [special] screwed up by my well-meaning parents and their own personal struggles. I tell myself I’m done with trying with trying to pick it apart because there’s no satisfaction. So sometimes I just have to put down the past and present obsession(s) and go to sleep already. This year is shaping up as the year to celebrate self-nurturing. Cut yourself some slack. Eat more greens. Exercise. Go to sleep before midnight! I know – feels impossible – right? Sometimes the simple self-nurturing is the best. All the best to you, and good sleep too.

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