Mommy issues – or, who doesn’t have ‘em?

I’m not going to kill myself, because if I did, that would mean hate and apathy win and I’ve never been a gracious loser.

I nearly had a complete mental breakdown a couple of years back when I realized just how much trauma I’d been carrying around without realizing.

Somehow, I didn’t realize it until something  I said to the therapist triggered in my own ears and I realized I was sounding completely insane.

“It was a punishment. I deserved it.”

But I didn’t.

I didn’t deserve to be punished for who I was. I didn’t deserve to be whipped with a bamboo cane until I had to go to school with knee high socks in the tropical summer heat because I had bruises all over my legs. I didn’t deserve to be told that the reason I was being ripped away from the only world I knew was because I was disobedient. I didn’t deserve to be told over and over that I wasn’t the ideal child, that I should remake myself so I was more like my sweeter, demure, obedient cousin. I didn’t deserve to be dragged out of the car and left behind on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t deserve to have my mother feign death on me. I didn’t deserve to have my grandmother tell me that she’d never forgive me if I made my mother sick from anger and die (and that I was doing it just by existing as me). I didn’t deserve to be slapped in the face as a two year old just for fretting. I didn’t deserve to be told that the reason I’d been taken out of the good school and put in a terrible one for rejects was because I didn’t have good enough grades when the truth was that we couldn’t afford it anymore. I didn’t deserve to be told that if I got less than a B in any course in college I would get yanked out and brought back to China when I explicitly said that I’d throw myself off a building if I had to stay in China for college. I didn’t deserve to be told not to smile because it made my cheeks puff up more and therefore looked fatter. I didn’t deserve to be told not to laugh because I didn’t laugh in a suitable fashion.

I didn’t deserve lots of things, but I’ve been taught over and over that I did. That I do deserve it when people disappoint and hurt me. That being hurt means I was being entitled, that nothing is guaranteed and nothing on this earth is truly yours.

Be grateful that you aren’t suffering more. Be grateful that we’re just negligent and slightly emotionally abusive rather than physically abusive drunks who try to sell your virginity. Be grateful for the things you do have and don’t mention what you don’t.

Lately the refrain is that I should just get over things. Get over my aversion to people. Get over my inability to be flexible. Get over my anxiety. Get over the hyper-sensitivity that makes me ill when people are upset around me. Get over my sadness. Get over all of the broken things in my life.

Thene said something, and I realized that the reason I’m like a radar endlessly trying to pick up unhappy vibes is because I had no security as a child.

My mother was capricious in how she doled out punishments. I likened her to a volcano when I was eight, citing the fact that she would just blow up out of nowhere and something that was perfectly all right two days ago would suddenly be the reason for an all out screaming scold. She would come home, vibing strangely, and then deliberately go and open my room door so she could have a good excuse to scream at me. Other days, she’d just put up with my room and its messiness.

My father is shit at communicating. He simply doesn’t convey disapproval or upset. He just gets quieter and quieter and then does things like suddenly storming into your room and smashing the CD player that he bought for you into pieces because the fact that your room is a perpetual mess must mean that you don’t care about your things and he’s therefore justified in breaking them right in front of you. This when you always thought that your mom was the crazy one about tidiness.

So essentially they broke me. And now they complain that I’m broken, that I can’t help but be on edge, that I can’t help but always be looking for danger, always knowing that I’m not enough, always aware that I could be sacrificed upon the altar of their lives without a second thought.

So maybe I don’t have avoidant personality disorder. Yes, Thene and I totally had a looong “discussion” about this. Maybe I don’t have it, but if I did… If I did, it would likely be because of my parents.

Hypersensitivity to rejection/criticism
Self-imposed social isolation
Extreme shyness or anxiety in social situations, though the person feels a strong desire for close relationships
Avoids physical contact because it has been associated with an unpleasant or painful stimulus
Feelings of inadequacy
Severe low self-esteem 
Self-loathing 
Mistrust of others
Emotional distancing related to intimacy
Highly self-conscious
Self-critical about their problems relating to others
Problems in occupational functioning
Lonely self-perception, although others may find the relationship with them meaningful
Feeling inferior to others
In some extreme cases, agoraphobia
Uses fantasy as a form of escapism to interrupt painful thoughts

Maybe I don’t have a disorder, but I do have issues. And how.

I’m not sure what to do with this.

I’m living with my parents right now because I have no other choice. Odd how being nearly bedridden half the time can fuck with your options. I don’t know how to insulate myself when being inattentive might mean that I could draw their ire on me. I don’t know how to shield when being less than completely compliant/agreeable might mean another huge eruption.

And I’ve lost almost all the buffers I’ve ever had. I can’t eat my feelings because I need to lose weight. Drowning myself in reading is harder with no income. I can’t escape home because this is where I live now. I can’t hide behind my friends because the only person I really trust is half a globe away and I’ve misplaced everyone else along the way.

I don’t know what to do. I can only remind myself that this is my life and I can’t let anyone other than myself win.

2 Responses to “Mommy issues – or, who doesn’t have ‘em?”

  1. thene

    well right now it seems like a huge part of it is the ‘surrounded by assholes’ problem.

    You didn’t seem socially isolated, distant, mistrustful, or wont to hide in fantasy [relative to the rest of the humans we know] while you were fairly healthy and not living with the people you are fundamentally afraid of. If this is who you are AROUND THESE PEOPLE it says more about their relation to you than anything else. Deciding to measure yourself at a time when everything is difficult – moving, seeing people, participating, labouring, supporting others – is going to make you decide you’re an avoidant person. Every bedridden person and new immigrant has avoidant personality disorder I guess?

    god, I hate essentialisms almost as much as I hate teleologies. I hate the very idea of trying to examine a human in isolation. Everything we are is between ourselves and others.

    Just thinking of my friend who (until recently) had the moderator job where she had to look at CP. They talked to a therapist about how it felt like victimising children all day and the therapist said ‘but why do you FEEL that way? why do you assume so much responsibility?’ and my friend got sucked into a pointless rabbit-hole of this that was not productive as therapy. The real answer was ‘honey, you need a new job. How do we get your ass into a different job?’ (Life is fucking hard and it took over a year and a half to find a different job, but it was like an insta-cure for 80% of their problems).

    Circumstance problems are harder to address and much less glamorous than the realm of the psychological, but I tend to assume that’s where most of our answers lie. And looking for constants and changes between circumstances shows some more answers. Eg. who gets better to be around when their circumstances pick up, and who gets nastier? The changes, the patterns, the dynamics of it all, the way we signal to each other as we pass on the tides; that is where i have found that it is.

  2. kyrias

    And this is where I and you can agree to disagree. I would argue that I just …used many things to cover up my escapism and enrobe them in socially acceptable, even socially desirable fashions.

    Tea parties, dinner parties, routinely spending hundred of dollars on books, being tipsy half the time when given a smidgen of a chance — the endless bread and circus whirligig that even you asked why of at some point…

    I do not know that I’m more unhappy here overall than I was in the US. I miss you, Thene, and Kelly, and I miss Whole Foods and Trader Joes and my own car and more freedom and Amazon, but I do not miss living with the guys and I do not miss my relationship with my ex and I do not miss feeling perpetually on the edge of disaster.

    My parents can be assholes, but so could my housemates. And at the very least, both parents have expressed that I can stay for as long as necessary. Sure, they might whine at me about progress on the health project, but it’s not better or worse than the guys whining about my ability or inability to clutter. And as my god-mother says, if you’re gonna whine at me, at the very least throw money/resources at me and the guys didn’t.

    My parents even offered to let me live in an empty apartment alone if I wanted, so there’s that. I just don’t want to because I feel isolated enough already.

    It’s really nice not to have to worry about money. I have some money in the bank. Not a lot, but still enough to do things with and I don’t really need to worry about whether I’ll have enough money in my account at the end of each month because I’ve succumbed to retail therapy. It’s also really nice to be out of limbo with the relationship.

    And this isn’t on the ex, really. But, it’s really nice to just be “okay, maybe marriage isn’t for me” and move on. Suffer, but move on. It’s exhausting to keep looking at something and trying to make it work and be this mostly-perfect thing. Less stressful to say “maybe I’m a bad candidate for this” and try to move through the stage of grief.

    And it’s nice to have access to medical care without worrying about going into a bankruptcy as a result.

    Things aren’t great here, but at least…they’re all easily complainable things, whereas back in the US so much …was just… I couldn’t really complain about it because it felt stupid to be whining endlessly about adulting. Even when adulting was bringing me to my knees.

    And as much isolation as I bear now, it’s actually only marginally less than before. E was never the best option for companionship, and neither was Joseph and I barely saw M and Charlie was such a source of mental conflict and …well, my ex was…it was what it was.

    And can I say that it’s nice not to have to feel compelled to have sex? I miss cock, yeah, but I’m so happy that I don’t have to have sex with someone just because they want it and the only person I need to please in bed is myself right now.

    All that, and I think mostly it’s because I know if I’m honest that I had been avoidant about doing things in Boston that I wanted to and hiding the fact to myself by keeping myself busy with things that didn’t really fulfill me the way I wanted it to.

    I don’t think it’s about labels or boxes or whatever. I’m looking at it as a “this is what I’ve been doing and I don’t like it” with the point being “I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s what’s really best for me” rather than “I have an insurmountable defining issue”.

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