So. I took a nap today. That’s not unusual as I try to grab sleep whenever I can. The boys love it because they can sleep with me or on me or near me. Since I don’t let them in my bedroom, this is a treat, indeed. I don’t even mind (much) waking up to a cat snoozing on my back. My head, yes, but I think that’s reasonable.
At any rate, I was still in a funk over my father when when I went downstairs to nap. I had just read Kel’s offer to house me, and I was thinking about that. I knew I couldn’t do that (for many reasons), and I was despairing over what to do as an alternative. With those unhappy thoughts in my head, I fell asleep.
When I awoke, I was violently ill (dry heaves) for a few minutes, and then I was determined to fight. I thought of my boys and how I couldn’t leave them alone with my father. He wouldn’t do anything to them, but he does not like animals. He tolerates mine because they are mine, but he is not fond of them–though he does say they are not bothersome in any way. High praise, indeed.
I do not want to move them or board them because this is their home, too, damn it. Besides their foster home, this is the only home they’ve known. They don’t take too well to change, and I will not move them.
In addition, I’m tired of flight. I have done flight all my life, and while it was useful and necessary in the past, I cannot do it any longer. I don’t know why it especially sticks in my craw this time, but it does. I think it is because I’m just starting to live again, and damn it, I am not going out like that. Seriously. I lived through the shit he did to me when I was a kid. I can fucking live through this, too. And, to be honest, I am tired of giving him so much power. Yes, he fucked up my childhood. There is nothing I can do about that. If I could I would go back and change it and never had to have experienced that. However, it’s not gonna happen, so there’s no point in dwelling on that.
The only thing I can do now is work on how much power he has over me in the present. I am in the process of untangling from my parents financially (to some extent), and my mother and I have worked hard to cobble out a workable working relationship. By the way, I have to remember that I thought there was no chance my mother would change at all before she came for her two-month stay. I thought that discussions of my childhood would be more than she could handle. I was wrong on both accounts.
This is not to say that I think my father will change; I don’t. Back to my mom for a minute. Yes, she changed, but so did I. Or rather, I changed in my interaction with her. I started acting more like an adult with her, and in response, she treated me more like an adult. True, I was discouraged at the end because our personal relationship had only gotten a little bit better instead of an appreciable amount better, but as I was reminded by several people, what did change was amazing. And lots of work. As my therapist pointed out, in the first week my mom was here, I was saying I couldn’t fucking say anything to my mom about my father. By the time my mother left, we had hashed out some of my issues from childhood that included my father.
No, not that one. My therapist asked how I felt about talking to my mother about the…damn it. I hate saying/typing it, so I will use the least ugly word possible, abuse of me by my father. She asked if I felt I needed to talk about it with my mother in order to have a relationship with her (my mom). Much to my surprise, I said no. I realized that my mother and I could have a real relationship, albeit a limited one, without me bringing up the abuse. You know what? I was fine with that.
Back to my father. I don’t think he’ll change, and there’s nothing I can do to change him. My mom claims he has mellowed with the years, and I do have to say that he called her while she was here to tell her about a change in his plans so she wouldn’t worry (he never would have done that when I was a kid. In fact, he would have screamed at her for daring to ask about it). So, he does care about her on some level. And, she has chosen to remain with him, so I can let go of my need to protect her. Yes, I know it’s fucked up, but that is what she taught me when I was younger; I was responsible for her emotional well-being.
Now that I see she has made her pact with the devil so to speak, I can let it go. And, may I say, she never protected me when I was a kid, either. So, any guilt I may have at not being vigilant about her emotional well-being is wiped out by the knowledge that she has consistently chosen my father over me.
Back to my interaction with my father. First of all, I don’t want a relationship with him, so any idea of pleasing/mollifying/catering to him can be thrown out the window. Second, and I have to keep emphasizing this, he can no longer hurt me. I am not that little girl any longer. I am not seven years old (though I sometimes feel that way), and I can use chin na techniques on him if need be.
I tend to slip into the victim’s role fairly easily. Now, while that’s understandable given what I’ve gone through, it’s not especially helpful in this situation. Victim implies not being able to control the situation and having things done to me. It was how I felt in Taiwan, and it nearly killed me. My therapist rightly pointed out after I returned that after my initial attempt at setting my boundaries and speaking up for myself (and being ignored), I folded. I didn’t try again, and I just did my best to survive the experience.
That’s the dastardly part of feeling I have no control–I cede whatever little control I do have and then basically reinforce my perceptions. I have mentioned before how I can see the stupidity when my mom shoots down every solution to a problem, and yet, I find myself doing the same thing time after time. It’s the same here. I construct a box that is very tight-fighting, but that is mostly of my own imagination, and then I refuse to get out of it.
In Taiwan, I could have said, “I don’t want to go” and meant it. I could have said, “I do not want to do this activity” and stuck to it. I did not because I let my feelings of helplessness overtake me, and I retreated into my shell. This has been my default response for all my life. Again, given my childhood, it’s understandable. However, it is not useful now (if it ever was). And, after awhile, it became a reason not to do anything. It’s horrible to feel you have no power, but it’s also a way to avoid any responsibility or to take any action. After all, if I cannot affect a situation, why do anything at all?
I was ready to fall back into myself about my father’s visit. I might still do it–who knows? The demons were sure poised to push me back into the abyss (as they always are). I still have some residual self-negativity left from the visit from my mom. I mean, this would have been the perfect opportunity for me to just collapse and return to Minna 1.0. For those who read the entry previous to this one, you know I was on the edge.
However, something inside me said, “No. Just–no.” It was a small voice and it came from some deep recess of my brain, but it was very firm. That little voice stopped the panic that was infiltrating my mind with the repeated insistence of, “No.” No. You are not going to fold back into yourself and lose the progress you’ve gained in the last year. No. You are not going to numb out and become a walking zombie again. No. You are not going to allow that man to victimize you again.
Me: What? WTF? I have to self-destruct–
Me: I have to come apart–
Me: I can’t do this! I’m too weak!
This is the first time I’ve heard this particular voice in my head. She is quiet, but firm. She is no-nonsense, cutting through the bullshit, but she is not mean. She just states what she sees as the truth with conviction. She is unfamiliar, but she is a welcome addition to the cacophony in my brain.
And, I need someone in my head who is on my side. I mean, I have the damn demons telling me what a piece of shit I am. I have my superego telling me that I should feel guilty because of this and that and the other thing. I have the scared, damaged little girl who is afraid of everything. I have the bitch who, well, just bitches about everything. There are more, but those are the main ones. This new voice is a refreshing change. She isn’t noisy like the others, and she doesn’t demand my attention. However, I can’t help but hear her through the chatter.
No. I am not going out like that.
I have been a victim. I held on for many years after (15, but who’s counting?). Some would say that I am a surviver, but that implies a more active participation in said survival than I feel I have done. I endured. I numbed out, hunkered down, covered my head, and tried not to get hit by the shrapnel. I existed, yes, but survived? Eh. Not so much.
Despite my current set-backs and plunges into the darkness, I am in a better place than I have ever been. Let me rephrase that. I am in a place to potentially propel me to the best place I’ve ever been. I would say that in some ways, I was in a slightly better place a year ago, but that was before the flashbacks hit me full-force. So, in the light of that, it’s not surprising that I’ve regressed a bit.
Here’s the thing. I have always been more comfortable with my weaknesses and flaws than with my strengths and assets. I think it’s good to know one’s negative side, but not at the expense of embracing one’s positive side. And, over time, I have warped my weaknesses into my strengths in a way. I mean, I know they are weaknesses, but I tout them as if they were strengths, even if I decry them as weaknesses. It’s like I said about victimization. If I think I am too weak to do X, Y, or Z, then I don’t have to do X, Y, or Z. It’s twisted and backwards, but it’s how I’ve operated for far too long.
It gives me a way out. It allows me to do what I’ve always done and not do anything differently. Of course, the results are the same, which is something I do not want. I do not want to keep feeling like shit. I do not want to keep giving my father power over me. I do not want to allow the damage he’s done to me to break me even more.
Strengths were verboten in my family. It was unseemly to be proud of something. I learned that lesson well, too. However, it has gotten me jackshit to focus on my weaknesses while sacrificing my strengths. In addition, some of the things that are flaws in some circumstances (such as my OCD) can be strengths in others. It’s a flaw to be obsessive about stupid shit (like my insane need to control everything trivial), but it’s a strength to finish something once I put my mind to it.
So. Here’s the thing. I am not going to self-harm while my father is here. I am saying that now because I need to see it in writing. I have a habit of hedging on these things–keeping the option in my back pocket, as it were. In the past, it’s saved my life to give myself that out, but now, it’s no longer useful.
I am stronger than I was five years ago or two years ago. I am even stronger than I was while I was in Taiwan. My therapist said that while the experience in Taiwan was horrible for me, it did bring things to the forefront that needed to be dealt with. It’s true. The trip to Taiwan was the catalyst for my mother sending me the letter telling me what was wrong with me and my inner realization that things had to change.
I need to let go of my habit of seeing the worst of me and using it as a reason not to do things differently. Despite my focus on the worst of me, I can see a few of my strengths as well. I am stubborn. I question authority. I have a twisted sense of humor. I fight for the underdog. I can use these things in my defense when needed.
In addition, I have good friends locally and around the country–indeed, the world, who would be more than happy to lend me a hand, a shoulder, or an ear (or a house, thanks, Kel) if I need it. I don’t have to do this on my own–which is in itself an odd thing as I have long since tried to keep my burdens to myself.
Look, my father is going to be who he is. A narcissistic, unfeeling, domineering, empty, charming cipher. That’s who he is. There isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. However, I can change how I react to him–that is within my control. I don’t have to let him make me feel useless, worthless, broken, and damaged. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s also gonna be in my home country rather than his this time. I don’t have to let him walk all over me.
Feelings, as strong as they are, are just feelings. I have to try to remember this when I get overwhelmed with negativity, as I know I will when my father returns. I am no Pollyanna, and I have no illusions that just because I made this breakthrough, I am not going to slide back while he’s here. I will. How I deal with it, though, is what matters.
I have my therapy session tomorrow. I am going to bring this up, and I am going to formulate a plan as to how to deal with the imminent visit. I said awhile ago that if I go down, it’s not going to be without a fight. It’s time to back up those words with action.
P.S. The first vid is because I have always liked Pat Benatar’s in-your-face attitude. The second vid is from a good friend who declared it my real personal anthem (instead of Hurt by NIN/The Man in Black). I didn’t believe him at the time, and I still don’t quite believe him now, but I am trying. The third vid is because I love the Femmes, and this song is the attitude I am feeling right now.