Thursday, June 7, 2007

I Killed Her (Trust)

Someone on my AS board posted about having a tough time responding to what I suspect was a somewhat critical or questioning email from a work superior. She brought up with her T and was given a homework assignment — to think about "why she didn’t trust herself?" It prompted some discussion and I began thinking about how I would answer that question for myself.

It’s far easier to reflect on why I don’t trust other people. That answer is pretty obvious, given my background. Some of that answer intertwines with why I do not trust myself.

Like the original poster, I am overly critical of myself. If I get summoned to a partner’s office, I assume the worst. When I got into a heated discussion with a partner about parking lot lighting, I took it really hard. It threw me into a panic. Today someone wanted to vent to me about one of my colleagues. I was very panicky because I felt conflicted and in the middle of things.

My line of work is based on conflict. I do fine dealing with conflict of others most of the time. When it is directed toward me though, or involves me, I get panicky. I always assume the worst about myself. I overanalyze every conversation, action and event. I repeatedly plan out what I will do and how I will react.

The original poster on AS said, "It wasn't who the email was from that triggered me. It was the inaccuracy of the information that she was given and was asking about in the email. I was afraid she wouldn't believe me, over the members of her cabinet. WHY? Because my mother's denial of what happened to me and denial of the right to have the feelings I had, were so consistent, so intense."

I can relate to that. My mom didn’t truly believe my disclosure until Toilet confirmed it. To this day, I don’t know exactly what he confirmed, but given her subsequent comments, I don’t think it was the full extent of what happened. My mom’s version of what occurred was "NO BIG DEAL." His constant exposure - NO BIG DEAL. His fondling me - NO BIG DEAL. His comments and pornography addiction - NO BIG DEAL. She told everyone that. Told me it repeatedly. Told me to "Forget about it." I began to question myself. Was it really such a big deal? Was I making a mountain out of molehill? Was I just being a prude? Was I really overreacting?

Mom always reminded me of all the good things Toilet did. How nice he was. That he bought me things. That he stood up and protected me against my Dad. When my Dad stopped all contact, she reminded me that Toilet had stood by us. She referred to us as a family. I slowly began to accept her line of reasoning. I began to refer to him by his first name. I referred to he and my mom collectively as "my parents." Many people assumed he was my biological father.

Little thoughts would pop up in the back of my head - questioning why I was doing this. At one point, I was involved with a child abuse case. Thoughts would pop in my head about the similarities of this child’s life and mine. When those things happened, I shoved them aside. Told myself it was NO BIG DEAL. Made that part of myself die. Many people refer to this part of themselves as the "inner child." My inner child is dead. I killed her. It was a slow death. Painful too. I killed her by squashing her spirit and believing my mom’s lie.

The reason why I can’t trust myself or believe in myself is because I betrayed my Inner Child and killed her. I did anything, including believing what happened was NO BIG DEAL, just so I could survive. Even when I escaped from home, I continued to believe the lie. It never occurred to me that I could disbelieve that then. Thus began an inner battle between a teeny tiny part of me that wanted to, and needed to, overcome that lie - versus the big part of me that had accepted that it was NO BIG DEAL and that I needed to just let it go. I didn’t trust myself. How could I? I couldn’t even figure out internally whether something had happened that was serious or really NO BIG DEAL. After all, I had killed my Inner Child by believing a total lie and discounting what I knew was really real. I began to rely on what others perceived as reality, including Toilet and my Mom.
I continue to doubt myself. My memories are so fuzzy, I can’t trust those. I have trouble remembering what I did just one day ago. I can’t keep my imagined reality and real reality straight. Even when I have "proof" in front of me, I continue to doubt. I have a skewed sense of who I really am. I don’t feel like others see me. I don’t feel like the respected professionals that others see.

When there is a confrontation or question about something I’ve done or said, I automatically believe the worst about myself. I assume that it is my fault and that I am to blame. When someone (usually my husband) tries to point out that the other persons involved may bear some responsibility, I will find myself defending the other persons.

In summary, I do not trust other people. Except that when it comes to other people versus me, I trust them over myself. So, now that I’ve identified the issue, what do I do about it?


jumpinginpuddles said...

your inner child isnt dead shes just hiding until you are ready to to really listen to her

Beauty said...

Dear Enola,
When children are abused it destroys their faith in their own perceptions of right and wrong, reality, etc. Especially is this true should the non-abusing adult in their life (such as the mother) either refuse to believe that the abuse is happening, or (as in my case) refuse to take action against it.

You are being way too hard on yourself. I know because I've been there. I told myself for decades that what happened to me was NO BIG DEAL. How could it be a big deal when my own mother did nothing to protect me?

Please extend to yourself the compassion and empathy you would give to any child. I know this is hard; I struggle with this too. And see, it's easy for me to tell you to be gentle with yourself even though this is not something I myself do well. But what the heck, my advice still stands!

Lynn said...

I have the same problem, Enola. I'm only now beginning to really understand why my trust issues loom so large... The whole trust thing seems to really be a focus right now for me. Beauty has explained it quite well. I find JIP's thought here to be a hopeful one.