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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.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hidden Pieces ~ Hypervigilance


I decided to begin retelling what I wrote to my therapist and I in the Winter/Spring of 2007 after four years of intense flashbacks and repressed memories emerging. [Current commentary is in brackets.]  I wrote my seventy page "biography" because I needed to write out what I remembered and what I experienced to make it more "real" rather than a "story."  I am ready to take the next step and putting more of it in my blog.  This was the original reason for starting my blog and using my journal as a starting point.  I am still struggling with believing that the following is the truth of my life:

By the time I was a teenager, I was really numb most of the time and barely present, but was hypervigilant and was an expert on suppressing the tendency to duck, run, cover myself, scream or anything else that would protect me some. When we [my therapist] spoke about this, I realized that I’ve done this all my life and that it does take tremendous energy and control to do this. Even when I was in excruciating pain, I never made a sound and learned to stand still when I saw my mother come at me with her hand, fist or object to hit me even in the face…no reaction before, during or after no matter how searing or radiating the pain was even if she drew blood. I had the same reaction with the things that my father, my step-father, my step-father's father and the other men did.

I think part of what is making me extra hypervigilant is that it seems like it is part of the flashbacks. I think, I’m feeling and reacting the way I would have if I didn’t keep everything in so much control. I feel like I’m going crazy because every sound is making me extremely anxious… Last night, I had to ask my husband to stop cleaning the kitchen until I went into a quieter part of the house…I felt like I was so on edge I was going to explode either into tears because I was so anxious and tense or start yelling at him for making so much noise. Today, I ducked when the doorbell rang. What would be helpful now? To just let it happen or try to control it? (Suggestion: not to focus on the hypervigilance, but to still let my reactions happen naturally because I was unable to do so before.) I always needed to be on guard listening to every sound and if there was a subtle difference anticipating a fight and my then trying to hide, but being aware of when I needed to respond to my mother which was usually never timed right.

But, my mother and I used to argue too. I don’t really remember what they were about, but I don’t think that it was significant, maybe normal teenage stuff, or abusive. But, she was really critical which is why my aunt taught me to drive because my mother and I fought about my driving. She kept pointing out what she thought I was doing wrong to the degree that my aunt would tell her, “S, just shut up and let her drive!” I also find it interesting that somewhere when calling her, “Mommy” didn’t seem right that I stopped calling her anything. I always referred to her as my mom or my mother, but they didn’t feel right to me. She never responded to me anyway, at least, on the first attempt. my aunt and I used to joke and still do to this day that you have to call her name or ask your question at least three times before she even acknowledges you or answers. Yelling, “S” works the best.

With my mother, sometimes it started with her cleaning the kitchen or dusting or another household chore. I had to listen to how she was closing the drawers, windows, the trashcan and cupboards. I listened to how she walked, breathed, put things away or down on the counter. How she washed the dishes and put them away…literally every sound she would make as well as my step-father. How the doors were opened and closed, how they walked up or down the stairs. How they changed the television channels and the volume. How they drove the car into or out of the drive way…just everything. I was absolutely terrified and constantly on edge.

Also, trying to anticipate when my mother was going to demand my help, but I couldn’t offer sooner because she would immediately become angry…but, she would become angry if she had to call for me…usually yelling my name even if I was standing in the same room. If she did this, I, at the very least, would get slapped and my step-father would begin yelling at me for not listening to her. I felt so crazy and confused. Everything noise scared me and made me want to duck because once this cycle started it was inevitable that I was going to get at least slapped and screamed at. This was almost always started by my mother cleaning house, having an argument with my step-father, him being angry, her being angry or either one being angry with me.

My mother was could always be angry with my step-father as he did not help with cleaning the house, with the laundry, fixing things around the house or with the yard work. Yard work, even with my allergies, always ended up as a punishment for some excuse to be angry with me or a way for me to earn allowance. My friends even asked about the yard. His friends even came over unannounced several times to do the yard work for him, which ended up in a fight because my mother was embarrassed. He mostly spent time watching television, playing video games, playing with the little race cars that spanned four ping pong tables in the garage, played with the remote controlled cars which he used to race in this club, played basketball, went out with his friends to drink or played with the neighborhood kids with his “toys.” All the kids in the neighborhood thought he was great because he entertained and played with them…he had the really neat toys. I’m feeling really sick right now and how awful I felt then…really angry, anxious and somehow…it is painful…don’t really know why. (I can’t believe that I’ve never shared any of this with anyone before…feels weird.)
  [It still feels uncomfortable because I really don't want to admit how awful it was.]


Lisa said...

I know my words won't really help in this case but I want to give you some hope and please hold on during these hard times and realizing some things.

stay strong

Just Be Real said...

Dear one how awful. You were and still are living on the edge. I am so very sorry. But, appreciate you sharing your story here as always. Blessings ((((CC)))))

Clueless said...

Lisa and JBR,

I appreciate your comments and reading what my life was like. Thank you for the blessings!!!

take care and I will stay strong,


LAH said...

I just wanted to commend you and thank you for your bravery in sharing this... I hope that it will continue to have a positive effect for you as well, just in the sharing. I recently read a book titled "Broken," by Shy Keenan, the founder of Phoenix Survivors. "Broken" is her memoir about her childhood of sexual abuse and has a lot of similarities to your own story. I only chanced upon the book when a girl who had just finished reading it on a bus in Vietnam offered it to me. I couldn't put it down, though it was heartbreaking to read... I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to reveal so many details, as it is for you. Again, I thank you for your bravery.

Clueless said...


Thank you for commenting. I'll have to check the book out. I hope that you will come back and visit.

take care,

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