When we are Little people, many people think our parents can and will protect us from anything. And if we survive, that view is confirmed. It is made into fact: we are alive because our parents protected us.
The truth may be more complicated, though. Your parents may have provided support for your survival, and they may have harmed you. This post is not about blame. It is about the complexity of what is real.
We often prefer all-or-none truths: good guys versus bad guys, right versus wrong, etc. Life is rarely so tidy, especially for important things and long-term things, like growing up from birth to independence.
If you live with people for 15-20 years, let alone for a few months, the relationship may be hard to reduce to all or none.
It is hard for us to be with our parents because they raised us with two different sets of standards. Father had his standards, which were the rules we were supposed to live by. When he was not present, Mother would provide us with a second set of standards, her rules. These two sets of rules were completely contradictory. They were all versus none. This means that we could not abide by both sets of rules. It was impossible. To follow one of the parent’s rules was to disobey the other set of parents.
It is possible that our attempting to please both sets of parents contributed to our fragmentation. This is partly why we are “we” and not “I.” And why our OCD can be very rigid and angry and also contradictory at times!
It might be easy to blame the Mother. Why did you pretend to agree to one set of rules set by the Father and then create a second set of rules? It is not so easy. Our family as so many others in society, was patriarchal in the 1980s. The Mother lacked power: economic, physical. Just wait until your father gets home…
It is easier to blame the Father then, right? He could have shared power. He could have collaborated better with his spouse. Actually, his rules were the ones that were stricter. He wanted us to keep out of trouble: sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, delinquency, etc. So he threatened violence against us if we disobeyed. Very complicated! I want to keep you safe, so if you don’t stay safe, I will harm you!
Mother would tell us behind his back that we should engage in these forbidden activities. In moderation, she would append. Further fragmentation. Further tightening of the grip on what can be done. How does a 15 year old titrate, moderate, modulate experimentation with sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, delinquency, etc.?
If this sounds complicated to you, please keep in mind that we were already fragmented from surviving sexual abuse. We were already fragmented from a chronic and un-diagnosed sleep disorder for our entire childhood.
Very complicated. Lots of fragmentation.
Then we get to some of the traumas from our age 18 year. This year has us stuck in time (when we’re closer to age 50 than to age 40) and had us in this hospital twice this weekend for somatic symptoms.
We had our tonsils out at age 18. During recovery at home, our sutures ruptured and we had to be rushed into surgery. Our caregiver was told to drive us straight into the ambulance bay where a team would be waiting. There was no time for an ambulance.
We remember being wheeled from the ambulance bay onto an operating table and a gas mask coming down.
We had not eaten solid food for days while recovering from the first tonsil surgery. Then we could not eat solid food for even longer while recovering from the second surgery. The only foods we could eat were gelatin and popsicles. We got so sick of those foods that we have not eaten either in the subsequent 30 years.
This past week, we got stuck in that trauma; and all food became gelatin and popsicles. Our food intake plummeted. We couldn’t eat enough. The sudden lack of calories, plus the stress of flashbacks and being hungry, made us nauseated and dizzy. We wound up in the ER for IV fluids after vomiting.
Once released, we forced down a small meal. But it wasn’t enough. We tried for two hours to eat a banana, but could not. We got sick again and needed another IV.
Then the next day we spiked a fever and the diarrhea started. We are stabilizing. We are eating mostly rice in broth. We hydrated with diluted juices. We are trying to get strong enough so that we can go in-patient for trauma treatment. The hope is to be strong enough to leave Friday morning.
Another complicating factor is that Older Child is having wisdom teeth extracted Thursday morning. This is triggering us to our tonsil surgery. Different procedures. Same fears.
We can do this! We can be strong. We are strong. We got poked with two IVs, a shot, and another blood draw. We can do hard things! We will go to therapy tomorrow and make a plan to keep eating. It is very important that we are able to get on an airplane and get to that hospital. We need help for this. It is too much to do without more support and supervision. We need to be cared for. We need help to survive.
it is strong to ask for help asking for help proves that you are strong
if you are suffering you can ask for help. We did.