TRIGGER WARNING - very foul language; somewhat abuse-descriptive
Major flashback this morning. Haven't had one of these in awhile. I was able to stay more "with it" which made it interesting because I could understand the process a bit more.
Munchkin has been mouthy lately. Typical 5 year old stuff but Husband and I are trying to nip it in the bud. This morning I told her to get dressed. She yelled, "No I have to brush my teeth first or I might get toof-a-pace on my pretty dress." Good point, but her delivery needed some work. I responded, "fine, get dressed but watch your tone young lady. That was disrespectful."
I have a quick temper. I stomp feet with the best of them. Complete with hand on hip, pouty lip and defiant look. I also know it means going straight to my room where I can stomp to my heart's content...but there is no one to watch. When I disagree with Dad, he tells me I'm talking back. I have heard a few 4-letter words, but not many - and I've never used them.
Mom, Toilet, Sister and I have lived in the apartment for a year and it is time to move into the House which will become known as the House of Horrors. It's been a rocky year adjusting to new rules and new personalities. My temper is still quick but I've learned to match wits and words with Toilet. I do not get accused of being mouthy. Actually, I think he likes it.
Toilet pisses me off and I tell him to get his dirty hands of my TV. Dad told me that the TV belonged to Sister and me. It was a new TV, complete with a remote control (which was a big deal then). Mom and Dad couldn't decide on how to divide it up in the divorce so it went to us kids. Toilet wouldn't let me watch what I wanted so I told him to get his hands of the remote. This was a common occurrence. Some times he'd just walk off to the other room. Other times he'd unplug the TV and tell me I couldn't use his electricity. Still other times he'd wrestle me for the remote.
Four letter words were common. "You spoiled bitch," he'd call me.
"Asshole" was his name long before he became Toilet.
"Shut the fuck up already," was commonly yelled when us kids got too loud.
"Pussy, pansy, wuss" were names we were called when we whined or complained.
"Bastard" was another favorite to call him.
I had no trouble asserting myself in an argument. I called him every name under the sun. Mom set down a rule after many months. We could still curse, but weren't allow to call someone a curse word. So I grew inventive. No long was he a "fucking idiot." Now, I said, "that was a fucking idiotic thing to say."
I saw Toilet and I as equals in arguments. Well, I thought he was pretty dumb actually. He was full of himself and came off as arrogant, thinking he was intelligent and knowledgeable about everything. He would argue about every news story. But I soon learned it was all bark and he had nothing intelligent to say. He just covered up his ignorance with a loud voice and foul language.
<<>> Then there was the other dichotomy.....
With the abuse, I became mute. Gone was the angry girl who would have told him to "keep his fucking hands to himself." I lay there silent. Doing as directed, sometimes without being asked. I was cooperative, acquiescent. Where did the Assertive One go?
"I'm up here."
"No, UP here."
"Yeah, here. Know how in your memories, you see things from above. As if you're hovering over your right shoulder? Yeah that's me. I'm up here."
"Actually - there are two of us."
"Yeah, Two. Why two? I yell at him. All those words you would yell if you hadn't lost your voice. Things like 'get your bloody hands off me.' and 'what the hell do you think you're doing.' and 'pull this fucking car over now before I beat the shit out of you.' I yell at him for you."
"Why are you yelling at him? He's not going to listen."
"Me? I'm the other one. Assertive One part two. Only I yell at you."
"Yeah, you. Because you need it."
"Wake the fuck up out of your fog. What are you doing you dumb fuck?"
"Snap out of it. Don't just freaking lie there. Kick him. Move. Walk away. Scream. Yell. What the hell are you doing? Do you want him to keep doing this or something?"
"This is all your fucking fault you dumb bitch. Why didn't you do something? What are you going to do now, huh? Get up and stop crying. You asked for it, you idiot. Get over yourself. No one will believe you now. As if he could have kept the car on the road if you had fought back. If it was that bad, you would have fought and crashed."
And so as I stood in the bathroom this morning, I was struck by the chasm between the two personalities of my childhood. Assertive versus Compliant. Taking on the World versus Letting the Word Run Over Me. It's still that way now. Assertive on the outside when dealing with non-me stuff. Complaint on the outside when dealing with personal stuff.
And a bit about the process - as I flash backed, the vision of me in the mirror got hazy and dim. I walked in the other room, grabbed a piece of paper, scribbled out some words - personality - assertive - compliant - dumb fuck. Folded the paper up, put it in my purse. Took a deep breath and walked into the bathroom to get ready. Saw myself fine in the mirror.
About ten minutes later I was in my car driving to work. I reached for a cough drop and felt the paper in my purse. What is that? I remembered having a panic attack. No recollection whatsoever about what. It was a wall. I knew there was something. I knew I had written something down. I started to push just a little bit, but the darkness closed in and I got sweaty. Stopped because I was driving and it wasn't safe to go further.
So I'm here at work now. Unfolded the paper. Took a deep breath. Gathered some distance. Maintain a healthy distance and write it out. Get it out now - process it later. And with that I'm done and off to get coffee. Counseling session next week - maybe I'll find some answers there.