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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thinly Veiled Denial ~ Child's Play!

I've been holding this thin veil of denial of how extreme my home environment was as well as how extreme my symptoms were/are. I have always been embarrassed and ashamed about the way that I played with my stuffed animals and dolls. But, I started writing and talking about it in therapy last week. I know what the implications of how I played are and don't want that reality to sink in, but like with my "new" diagnosis, I really can't look at it in any other way.

In play projection is used, operating unconsciously, in which what is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed (projected) to others or to toys like stuffed animals and dolls in children to be integrated later. For children they are given the opportunity to play out his accumulated feelings of tension, frustration, insecurity, aggression, fear, bewilderment, confusion or to reenact what was done to them.

I know this; yet, I am ashamed and embarrassed to reveal it to you for fear that you will think I was a disturbed child. Well, the truth, is that I was a disturbed child and what child wouldn't be growing up how I did. I also know that if I saw a child playing like this that I would wonder how are we going to remove the kid as soon as possible from the home. I'm going to close my eyes now, so I can't see how bad it was. (Doesn't work, just flashbacks...well, it was worth a try. It seems to work for kids, but I'm not anymore. I am an adult still trying to deal with the world with my child defenses.)

The following is a Wordle that I did on how I played with my stuffed animals. I shared the information with my therapist. One of the disturbing things, is that there were stuffed animals that I was afraid of due to their violent nature toward each other and me or the suicidal ones or the homicidal ones. This is not what children growing up in a healthy environment project onto their stuffed animals. Most children only project comforting things which is why they are soft and cuddly. Most of the words on it is what I did, my projections or some type of reenactments of what was done to me. And, some are just feelings I had about them or my home such as being angry, frustrated, scared of some of them, thinking something was wrong with me, bad and ashamed.


(Click on the picture for a larger view)

Further adding to the tearing down of my denial and my shame is how I played with my Ken and Barbie dolls. I also had two others that were much smaller, so I made them the children. I made huge house extensions using my children’s encyclopedias. One of the smaller dolls was the child the other one was usually a friend. Barbie used to yell, hit and slap the child. I also would hit her or put her in a corner or throw her across the room. Ken would undress her and use his belt or a kitchen utensil to hit her all over, but usually laying face down on the bed. Sometimes, she would be on her back with her legs up and hit. Sometimes, clothing or string would be used to tie her down. Sometimes, they would have sex together. Sometimes, I would put her in the corner of my closet and close the door for days because I couldn't stand to see her.

Shows a lot of reenactment and projection especially of feeling bad and needing to be punished and self-hatred. I don't want to know that I played that way, but it isn't a repressed memory. I have always known that I played this way and just never wanted to see the implications even though I knew. Now, it works to verify what really happened and I don't want to look at it. I was a disturbed child for good reasons. I feel a little sadness, pain and compassion as I remember playing that way. It would be disturbing for me now to watch a child play in that manner. I would want to know, "what the hell happened to this kid!"

14 comments:

mini said...

Hey you, what can I say, my arms ache to rescue that child, it's so sad but you are so brave, I know what you mean about not wanting to see things for what they were, I slept with a breadknife under my bed age 8/9 & have been trying to justify it as I was just a bit odd not that I needed a knife to feel safe. On the plus side we survived but ouch! (ok how weak is that escription of pain, that's what I do)
take care of you, I feel you are gently holding my hand across my journey & I know I am not alone then or now & would like to say thank you for that, take care of you,
gentle hugs across the miles

Clueless said...

Hi mini,

Yes, it is normal for a child to sleep with a knife!! It is tough and I'm glad that you don't feel alone. With your support and encouragement, I don't feel alone. I like holding hands and hugs.

(((mini)))

Tamara said...

You have nothing to be ashamed about. How could you possible play or act out anything other than what you saw in your daily life and felt inside from things done to you. The shame is that no one saw you playing like this and realized the extent to which you needed help and protection.

These things that we think are shameful about ourselves are not us. They are projections of the people that abused us. Unfortunately those that should feel shame don't!

You were nothing but a sweet, loving, wonderful little child who had way too many experiences that she should not have had to deal with. You were letting those feelings out the best way that you could. That is probably more healthy than holding them in because you couldn't even act them out with your toys.

Be easy on yourself. You deserve love and admiration for all you have lived and for the hard work you are doing to heal.

(((((Clueless)))))

Clueless said...

Thank you Tamara. You made me tear up. It is so difficult not to feel bad and be hard on myself. But, I know that you are right.

take care,
cc

Bradley said...

There is very little I can add to what mini or tamara said. They both expressed my feelings exactly. You acted out in the only way you knew how. You also were a child with an extreme amount of hurt and rage and without knowing it, you released them both in what could have been an otherwise dangerous manner.

You should be proud at how far you've come. I know I'm proud of you.

Clueless said...

Thank you, Bradley. Who would have known how healing doing this blog and the blog community would be. It feels good that you are proud of me...don't bat it away, don't bat it away, hold on to it.

take care,
cc

Ash said...

To an extent, I think that we ALL have "inappropriate" play behaviors. I know mine were...

On one hand, I totally GET that you'd not want to think about/see how "dysfunctional" those behaviors were... and on the other hand, the child you were was so hurt and tortured...

So... I guess what I'm saying is I wish I could have rescued that little girl. And I'm amazed, proud of, and impressed with the woman she grew up to be. You truly beat the odds.

Clueless said...

"Inappropriate" is all on a continuum because we all fall somewhere. Thank you for being proud of me. I did beat the odds and I will continue to do so. Thank you for all your support and encouragement.

Jadey said...

My siblings always wondered why all my toys were taken away & I wasn't allowed to have any..
Boy do I understand growing up thinking I was a freak-but I had some good therapists who taught me about the fact that everything in my life back then hurt-& some things I did to myself felt good- I wasn't a weirdo...I would actually practice "going back" and talking to my younger self, telling her that she was a good girl & that I loved her...

Clueless said...

Jadey,

Ouch...in having your toys taken away. That says a lot about your family right there because that is a bit extreme. I find it interesting and a positive sign that your would comfort your younger selves.

For me, I have self-destructive and want to destroy my younger parts. By the way, I'm not DID even though this sort of sounds like it.

Thanks for visiting and by the way how did you find me?

Take care,
Clueless

Immi said...

It's hard sometimes to even see clearly much less love that kid inside who is so hurt and so strange in some ways. It is for me. It helps us both when I can, though. I hope it helps you too.

Clueless said...

Imma, I know what you mean. Thanks.

Shen said...

Like I have felt looking back at the art and poetry I created as a child - I also feel this way for you. Where were the responsible adults in your life? Even if the parents were not able to care for you as they should, it seems like SOMEONE would have noticed what was going on.

I showed drawings to school counselors that should have set off warning bells like sirens... but it didn't happen that way for me, or for you. It's really sad how much the rest of the world is able to deny reality. It's just easier to pretend everything is okay, or to think "its not my problem" but its so wrong.

I want to wrap my arms around the child you were and tell her "you are safe now. No one can hurt you any more. None of it is your fault."

peace

Clueless said...

Shen,

Thanks for commenting. I think that many someone's knew what was going on, but chose not to discuss it. It was harder back when I was growing up as the schools did not have the training that they do now.

I hug sounds great!!

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