Stuff I don´t like to think about

The IQ test is still on my mind, but there isn´t anything I could immediately write about it, so I will talk about an entirely different subject, which for some or no reason has been bugging me lately: My mother´s reactions to my suspicions that there might have been a traumatic event in my past which I´ve “forgotten”.

************Sexual abuse/Rape triggers***********

I´ve already talked about how these suspicions started, so I´ll just link to that post, you can find it here. To sum it up: At first I had a dream about a man breaking into my house, raping me. Then, a few weeks later, I was on holiday with my father and the thought occurred to me that something bad might have happened to me when I was a kid, and that I forgot it. I developed a “plot” and tried to prove it was real.

Reaction 1: Affirmation

I returned from holiday. I didn´t tell my mother or father about my suspicions. A short time after my return my mother and I were talking about what might be causing all my problems. At the time I was already in therapy for depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation. My mother, too, was seeing the therapist for consultation, whatever. I was underage at the time, so it was normal procedure. My mother said that she had been wondering if maybe I had Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

What the hell?

I had not told her about any of my suspicions. So how had she come up with this idea, almost at the same time as I had? Years later I figured out that she had at some point been worried that this guy might have raped me, or at least she made such allusions towards my sister, although she never explicitly referred to this guy. Need I mention she never talked to me about it?

The reason she gave me for her suspicion that I had PTSD, though, suggests that she was not primarily thinking of this specific person. She said that PTSD would explain so much, like my anxiety issues and my compulsions. The encounter with that guy had been a year before.  I´d been suffering from anxiety and compulsions since early childhood. For all I remember I was actually comparatively anxiety-free at the time she mentioned it. So in a way my mother validated an idea about which I hadn´t even told her.

Most interesting about this is that a year ago I asked her why she had never consulted a therapist about my anxiety issues when I was a kid. She told me she didn´t think it was that serious at the time. So it wasn´t serious enough to see a therapist, but serious enough to suspect PTSD? What the hell?
Reaction 2: Indifference

On another occasion, my mother told me that my therapist had said to her that either my problems were down to puberty, or that there was reason to suspect a case of sexual abuse. (A bit black-and-white, isn´t it?) My mother also told me that she and my therapist had gone over a list of men who I had known as a kid and looked at whether or not they might have abused me. I asked: “Did you also consider my father?” – “Yes, shortly.” my mother replied calmly. “But I found that very unlikely.”

What kind of reaction is that??? She acted as if this was an academic question, something she and I had nothing to do with! Even an angry reaction would have been more normal than that! The thought didn´t seem to worry, disturb or otherwise upset her.

On another occasion I finally told her about my suspicions and also about my “plot”. She listened, with the typical “uh-huhs”, and afterwards she said: “That sounds so plausible I just wonder where the catch is.” And that was it. She didn´t seem to eager to find out if it was true or not.

Reaction 3: Disbelief

My mother never told me that she thought the story about the ruin was not true. But I doubt she ever believed it, either. During that time I heard her talking to my father, saying to him that I was telling myself something had happened to me because I felt guilty. A few months before one of my friendships had fallen apart in a fairly nasty way and I had found out that my former friend had been raped as a child. She had basically spat it into my face. This, too, is an incident worth looking at, but not now. The point is: My mother didn´t believe a word of what I was saying. Didn´t believe anything had happened to me, thought I only needed to think so because I felt guilty. She might well be right about this. The thing is, though: Why did she never tell me so?

I would have reacted with outrage, granted, but that didn´t stop other people from telling me they didn´t believe me. Irene, who I never confided in but who “somehow” knew everything anyway, was almost scornful about it. I´m sure my mother could come up with a million brilliant explanations. But there remains an uneasy feeling. If she didn´t believe anything traumatic had happened to me, why did she make all those suggestions? On most occasions she merely told me what my therapist had said, but when she said she thought I might have PTSD it was her own suggestion.

Reaction 4: Defensiveness

It was only once that my suspicions and questions provoked a reaction in my mother. One evening I had just read all kinds of things on the Internet about Multiple Personality Disorder (it was still called by that name back then) and suddenly I was dead sure it applied to me. The fairly dubious Internet source I had consulted had also stated that MPD could only develop in a person´s first five years. This ruled out that my “plot” could be the root of my alleged MPD. If I had MPD, then something had happened in my first five years.

I told my mother about my latest suspicion. She was her usual indifferent self, saying “uh-huh”, “uh-huh”, “alright”, until I asked her about my first five years. Had anything happened back then?

Suddenly her demeanor changed. “No,” she said in a very determined voice, “no, you can completely forget about that!” (Weird choice of words, and slightly cynical, given the subject.) When I expressed my surprise at her sudden defensiveness she said: “I just don´t want you to search where there is nothing to be found!”

Now add this up to what she has done before: Not believing a word of my “plot” but never contradicting once. She doesn´t want me to search where there´s nothing to be found? It rather sounds like she never had the slightest problem with that as long as it didn´t concern my first five years.

***

I´m not sure what to make of all this. I feel like my entire suspicions makes me so unlikeable that I have no right to scrutinize or judge my mother´s reactions. Her contradictory behavior must sure be down to her being overwhelmed. She has a daughter who self-harms, who thinks of suicide, and now that daughter claims she might have a forgotten childhood trauma. It is obviously bullshit, but it might be better not to call her out on this right now because she might overreact. Poor mother has to talk to someone, of course, so she talks about it with her older, reasonable, reliable daughter, with the problem child´s father and with the problem child´s therapist. Oh, and apparently she also talked to some friends and relatives, and my father talked to his girlfriend and to her psychoanalyst, and no one knows who Irene talked to.

But the contradictions in her behavior are obvious. If her neutral reaction to my suspicions was merely a way of not saying she didn´t believe anything had happened to me, then why did she have no problem reacting so defensively when I was talking about my first five years? If she never believed in my “plot”, then her reason for reacting so strongly (“I don´t want you to search where there´s nothing to be found!”) is complete bullshit. Actually, her reaction indicates that “first five years” is precisely where to dig.

My family´s reaction is quite strange all in all. In the end I was suspecting that the sexual abuse had taken place in my family. I never confronted anyone in my family with this, though I made allusions. I only ever talked to my mother, and yet everybody else seemed to know about everything. They never talked to me as a family, though. I felt like while they were passing information among each other (especially my mother and sister), they never made a joint effort at winning me back. Sometimes I wonder if that actually was their goal, ever. I feel like they just let me slip away, let me believe things which were not true and only protested when it threatened their image as a family.

My father was staying out of everything. He was just disgusted with my cutting and my threats of suicide.

My mother was indifferent, apart from that one occasion. She was the worried mom, sure, listening to me and going to see the therapist, but that was it. She was never even curious if my suspicions were right or not. She never gave an opinion on anything I said unless it threatened the family image.

My sister was completely intolerant. She wouldn´t have anything that sounded like an allusion. Her reaction was always harsh.

I never noticed any genuine love or concern in anything they said and did back then. They were disgusted with the entire issue of mental health problems, showing empty concern without ever stating an opinion, or reacting with aggression. You could argue that I didn´t deserve love or concern after my suspicions against my family. For a long time I thought that I ought to be feeling a whole lot more guilty. That I was somehow repressing the guilt and shame which I simply had to be feeling, because how much more severe does a crime against the family get? Granted, I had never publicly declared them rapists, but other than that?

But maybe this feeling is not so much a result of the actual severity of my guilt, which I still find hard to judge. Maybe it is first and foremost a result of their reaction.

About a year later I apologized to them. Not explicitly for my suspicions, but for “everything from last year”. My parents´ reaction was very distanced, hesitant in a way. They told me my apology “had not been necessary; it hadn´t been my fault”. And yet our relationship did not recover. My father later told me they had been moved by my apology, but I never saw any evidence of that. When I later apologized to my sister, too, she was fairly hesitant, too, asking me what had prompted this.

Again, maybe their distrust is completely justified, maybe I have no right to their forgiveness. Of course I don´t. But I know how I react to apologies, and their reaction shows me that they weren´t too relieved, or happy to have me back or anything.

 

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4 Responses to “Stuff I don´t like to think about”

  1. vicariousrising Says:

    This reminds me of when my dad told my therapist I was a liar. When my therapist asked my dad what I might be lying about, my dad said he didn’t know, but whatever I was saying in therapy was a lie.

    It was the clearest signal to me that perhaps I was not the fucked up one. Plus, I had a witness 😉

  2. I keep on wondering what my mother might have told my therapists. How did you find out about what your father said?

    • vicariousrising Says:

      He told me. My father wasn’t a patient. Plus, my therapist got really concerned that the level of denial from my father was a sign of even worse abuse that I may have either repressed or had been unable to bring up in therapy. My shrink said in 50 years of practice, he’d never heard such a blanket denial.

      If your mother wasn’t a patient, I guess it’s up to the therapist to decide how to use the information. I can’t imagine Stoneface would’ve known the right thing to do.

  3. My therapist at that time wasn´t Stoneface, thankfully. I saw three different female therapists while I was still underage. I guess I should try to get the notes. The diagnoses the second one gave me still puzzle me.

    Was that therapist able to help you?

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