Attempting to understand my history of coping


Pehaps it is EMDR that is helping me connect the dots. But whatever the reason I'm seeing "more".


I still don't have clear images of the earliest abuses. That makes it hard for me to understand my symptoms. Why does my head always jerk to the right when I'm triggered?? I feel a comfort when I turn over on my right side and press the right side of my face into a pillow. But my left arm and leg will jump off the bed. My left palm gets some kind of trigger from touching linen, then as if possesed jumps into the air. Without any conscious thought. I could hold it down. But that stops the flashback and stuffs things back. My left foot does something similar, but my whole left leg will "jump". When I lie flat on my back, my head still jerks to the right, trying to press my cheek into anything that will press back! Only on my back does my right hand trigger similar to what my left does. But with the right, it's my hand only that jerks, not the whole arm. But I end up jerked forcefully over to my right side again, sometimes curled up tight in a fetal position.


And I experience this without a lot of emotional connection! I lie down. Relax. Let go of the "keeping it together" persona I wear. And bam, it starts. Body parts jerking around. I get the feeling, as I'm into the flashback episode that there is a TON of heartache with this memory. I try to open myself to it, hoping that I can get it all out. I get stabs of grief, a couple of tears come out. I find myself thinking what a horrible experience this must have been to live through. It must have been or my physical reactions wouldn't be so severe. Today they scare the shit out of me. They are really violent muscle movements.


I know it was very traumatic for lil Chris because these sensations are starting to spill over into my workday as well. The head jerk to the right. My hands will suddenly open up, spreading the fingers wide. It happens when I have a pause in activity. I've just finished a project. Or the line of customers is gone. I'm standing, and my arms want to cross my chest like I'm hugging myself. And I want to curl up in a ball. Later in my work week it gets harder and harder each day to keep it together until I can get home.


And I feel a lot of anxiety trying to banish this till I can get home, but trying to not banish it too far away where it gets stuffed again for years.


These are the nightly flashbacks I am having now. I know it is from something that hurt me before the "tying up" incidents. I did those flashbacks already. Fun, fun. So that makes it something that happened before I was 3 years old.


I'm beginning to recognize how this same incident has caused me a lot of trouble even as a child. I said before that the overt, severe physical abuse just stopped by the time I was 6 or 7 years old. I mark this as just after the time we moved into the house my parents currently live in.


But during the years, 7 to 13 (when I went to the Catholic boarding school) I had difficulty with bedtime. I could only fall asleep by rocking my leg back and forth repeatedly. It was a self-stim behavior. I concentrated on making my leg move. When one got tired, I switched to the other. Depending on how much stress I was feeling, the rocking motion would be harder or softer. My bed had to be fixed several times because I was rocking the damn thing apart.


I cried a lot at bedtime through those years. School was ugly. I was a withdrawn, skinny, sissy boy with few social skills. I got hurt a lot. That was enough pain to endure. Recent enough to dull anything from earlier. I also mentioned early that about 9 or 10 years old, I had a formal split from my emotions. I was already stuffing the earlier abuse. I just stuffed it all. So I stopped crying. Stopped feeling. And my life seemed to improve a lot.


Prior to shutting down emotionally, I would have terrible rage. I was angry all the time, but felt powerless to do anything about it. I would sneak and break some of my brother's things. But that got me into more trouble. Yelled at my parent's a few times. Testing them. I was confused. "You used to treat me like crap. Now you just ignore me all the time." Getting them to hit me made the world seem right somehow. That maneuver was scary though. I never knew how far my mom would go. As I got older, I learned that test wasn't worth it. But retained the knowledge that she would hit me if I "made her do it". At least I was still alive to them.


But the leg thing continued. I could not fall asleep without it. Concentrating on making them move until I drifted off to sleep. I didn't have to think or feel anything else. I was avoiding something all those years. Something that never seemed to come up during the daytime. And had to be squashed so I could go to sleep.


At the boarding school, I had a roommate my first year. I couldn't do the leg thing because the other boy would know I was crazy or something. I learned to use music as a cover. Put on headphones concentrating on the music. That was a hard switch to make. And I didn't sleep well all four years. I learned that first year that being tired all the time helped somehow. It dulled my mind. Fatigue was like alcohol. Numbing me. Whenever I went home for weekends off, I slept the whole time I was there practically.


After high school I used constant fatigue from not being able to sleep well plus focusing on being a student/husband/father to numb everything. If I wasn't at school, I was at work. Or I was at church leading campus ministry. Or I was being "dad".


Now I'm not squashing. And "Hello, there it is" every night. I never saw this connection before. Part of the denial, I suppose. How all those years before the high school seminary I was coping with being abused as a very young child. Avoiding having to deal with it.


It's funny to me that just communicating with Fr. A-hole opened up this door to what seems like a totally unrelated incident. I am not speaking to him anymore. He said that he couldn't deal with it and didn't want any further contact from me! Bastard. But it got me to look hard at myself. And I'm glad I took the opportunity to get healing again.


I'm feeling more "solid" today. Like I'm putting myself back together. And I'm feeling stronger. Especially since I can finally say that none of this shit was my fault. Why did it take so long to accept that? I can now see lil Chris more as the little boy that he really was. And he is trying to share that with me through each flashback episode.