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Pandora's Box

Old 05-12-2003, 02:31 AM
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Pandora's Box

Hello JT and gang.

Isn't Pandora the chick who opened the box of troubles and couldn't get it closed back up? I'm really glad you guys have added this forum and I have been intrigued with reading here. But I'm scared to post. LOL And you could have knocked me over with a feather when I read those 13 charactersitics. I don't have all of them, but a significant amount. Like oh, say ... 10 and a half.

With the kind assistance of the gang on the RAPS board, I have been examining some bad habits I have. Their thoughts and my ponderings have shown me that I may just belong over here. But remember those funny commericials "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up?" Well... Help. I'm talking and I can't shut up. That one thread got me going on my past so fervently that I swear my life is flashing in front of my eyes... and I can't seem to stop telling people about it. That's pretty different for me. I usually keep myself to myself. Part of me is screaming "Look at me look at me look at ME!" and part of me feels really obnoxious and embarassed about it.

I hope some of you will tell me you experienced this when you got all introspective on yourself. I feel guilty. Not really for burning up people's eyes around here... after all they can stop reading if it all becomes too trite for them. But like JT I feel that my parents always did the best they knew how for me. It seems ungrateful to be looking for clues to my flaws in my childhood... especially right after mother's day. LOL It seems self pitying. It seems self centered. It seems whiney.

Nobody ever walked out on me as a kid. I was never hungry or smacked around. Some of the stories I've read have made me physically hurt. We had lots of tension and lots of loud words. We had "don't upset Dad but to heck with Mom because she's upset no matter what you do". But heartsick horror we didn't have. So I also feel sort of... oh... unworthy. Weak?

Where was I going with this? Oh, yeh. Got guilt?

Dop
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Old 05-12-2003, 05:10 AM
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Dop,

I am going to try to spell a big word so bare with me. Ambiguous...is that right?? That is how I feel. I feel like pulling a blanket over my head between peeks but guess what...I got this ball rolling and what would I be if I didn't give it a shove occasionally to keep it going.

I also feel like perhaps I am going to a place I have no business going. I have a fear of spook houses...even as an adult. Something wet and cool touching me in the dark makes my stomach knot up even thinking about it.

What I have shared here is no secret. I have shared bits and pieces on the boards and privately but maybe not all in the same paragraph. It sounds worse when it is all written down at once. The thing that keeps me from feeling like I am violating my mother is that I know some of what makes her the way she is. She did not live in an ivory tower...she had it much rougher than me. Her's was in her face...so maybe that explains her shielding us so thoroughly. Are there degrees of disfunction??

We have worked hard to eliminate the obvious flaws...I haven't thrown a dish or kicked a door down in years. It is the more subtle things that are in my way now.

Have you looked at that site? I peek for a bit and then go under the covers.

Hugs,
JT
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Old 05-12-2003, 07:11 AM
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Yup, Pandora's box has definitely been opened! And I don't think its a coincidence that the traffic on RAPS picked up after JT started this forum...

My mom did the best she could and I don't feel like I'm betraying her either b/c I've been to some of the dark places she lived in and I understand. For a while I was very angry with her and I think I had to go through that anger and let it go in order to make further progress in this area. Otherwise, I would just stay stuck.

But I still struggle with the unworthy and weak feelings too. There was no physical abuse, and while I guess there was plenty of emotional abuse, I almost feel that I should have been stronger and dealt with it better - that I shouldn't have ended up with all these issues just b/c I was called a few names, told I was too sensitive, and was scolded and ridiculed for showing any negative emotions. I didn't live in the house of horrific horrors either. So tell me again why am I so screwed up?

When I first started examining this stuff, the image I had was of me sweeping the foyer in my house. In the foyer there were 3 closed doors - one to a bathroom, one to a closet, and one to the basement. I could move freely in and out of the closet and bathroom. But the basement door was this ominous thing that I was terrified of opening. I knew it was dark, full of cobwebs and God knows what else, and needed to be cleaned out. But I was too afraid of it and instead busied myself with cleaning the foyer.

Now, I've actually opened the basement door and turned on the light. I'm somewhere near the top of the stairs and while I'm still pretty afraid of going all the way down, at least I've managed to open the door. I'll be glad when the day comes that the basement is all cleaned out, the windows and curtains have been opened, and the sun is allowed to shine in.
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Old 05-12-2003, 08:15 AM
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How ironic, when I bought my lap top, which was right before I found this site, I named it Pandora's Box. Not really for any reason, just cause I thought it was clever. It almost kind of applies now, huh?

When I first started a lot of this work Dop, I felt just like you. I didn't have any real trauma due to my parents. Not compared to most people I've read a about here. However, I do relate to people based on how they related to me and my emotional reactions to them, at the time. I was told that if I am having trouble relating in a relationship than the relationship with my parents is the one i need to look at. It is not necessarily because it was abusive or volatile, but because they didn't have a course on how to talk to your kids 101 and they had their own issues they were dealing with. They coped the only way they knew how. My mother coped by critisizing me and telling me to get the hell away from her most of the time. She wasn't happy for most of my childhood and took it out on me. That could be pretty damaging to a kids self esteem. I didn't understand then that I wasn't the cause of her unhappiness. Unless I uncovered a lot of that stuff I think I would still feel like if I didn't have drugs and alcohol I wouldn't be worth much.

At first I felt a lot like you Dop. My mom had issues but she was there. She had dinner on the table every night. She drove me places, clothed me, and always gave me these kick a$$ b-day parties. So I felt guilty too but I learned that I am not blaming my parents I am looking back at our relating so I can get to the bottom of some of the issues I have that are blocking me to real happiness, growth, and intimacy. What I found out was that I needed to do the work to identify what happened, understand that my parents did the best they could with what they had, and forgive them for being human and not having all the answers.
The key for me was that once I forgave my parents, I let go of a lot of anamosity toward them and toward myself and gained the confidence to move forward with life and love.

However be prepared, I may have had a lot of emotional and verbal abuse to look at where my mom is concerned but I idealized my dad and always thought he was perfect. I still do to some extent. The hardest part of my adult child work was learning and facing my fathers part in all of this. I hadn't realized he ever played one.

Last edited by JT; 05-12-2003 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 05-12-2003, 10:03 AM
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Hi Dop! I understand perfectly what you are saying. I have to check myself often when I'm "feeling sorry for myself" because there are others who have it way harder than me. Conversely, my trauma doesn't devalue a "less" traumatic event of someone else's. We all have to live in our own skins - what happened to you, happened, regardless of the scale of affect. My mother telling me not to waste food because there were starving children in Africa didn't stimulate my appetite. I understood the concept, but it still didn't make me feel any hungrier.

I think the only red flag should be whether we get so caught up in our own stuff that it makes us indifferent to someone else's suffering. I don't see that happening to you.

Love and hugs!
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Old 05-12-2003, 10:08 AM
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This is an awesome thread. it sounds like it for the ones, like me that are in between here.

What I learned from my mother was how to find the negative in everything. There was not abuse in my house, I too read some stories here and tears come to my eyes. I was pretty much middle class. My older brother and 1 older sister (9 and 7 years oldler) started doing drugs and drinkin when they were in junior high and I was just a little kid, so there was a lot of fighting when it came to them and my parents.

I was in 4th or 5th grade and I watched my mom have nervous breakdown, seriously, I won't go into detail, but it was not something that a child should ever see. I instantly became the care taker trying to protect her from everything and everyone. As she slowly recovered, she became the victim of everything and everyone. I am not in any way critisizing her, she did the best she could. To quote my friend Dr. Phil, we live what we learn, and she came from avery unhappy home. My grandmother was the most unhappy woman on earth (but that is another story). Then there was my dad, who I too idolized, he could walk on water in my eyes. He was strong and said his piece, but he could hold me and protect me from the world. He died when I was 17 and my world ended. one of the biggest things I learned early in recovery was to give him a break. let his memory live in peace, to take him off the pedastool that I had put him on, he was a man, a dad, my dad, and that is enough.

My mom and I are struggling right now. The longer I am blessed to be in recovery the more I am blessed to grow and learn about myself. I struggle with not finding the negative in everything, it comes easy to her, I don't want it to come easy to me. I don't want to take care of her anymore, and she is haveing a hard time with that. i still want to be close her, but not her caretake, ya know?
Okay, once again Ihave babbled enough. This thread just really struck a nerve with me.

Thanks for listening.
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Old 05-12-2003, 07:43 PM
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Yo gang.

Actually, Pauline... imagining a child having to deal with a parent's nervous breakdown pretty much rattles my cage. Yet, there you are, saying you didn't have it so bad. That gives me a bit of insight, I think. Maybe some of us (read: me) are minimizing the impact that some of these events had because we are looking back on them as adults. " Well... it's not THAT earth shattering", we might think. But we didn't experience it as an adult... we were kids.

Hmmm.
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Old 05-13-2003, 12:30 AM
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That's the key Dop. We experienced it as children and little people's fear and emotions are huge. All the emotions I had when going through my flashbacks were terror. When I remembered what caused the emotion I would be amazed that I could feel that much fear over some insignificant event. That was the adult me talking. The emotion came from the child me.

We also need to remember that the alcoholism and all the behaviors that went along with them were the family secret. The family insisted that everything was normal so we learned that this was all normal. To tell the family secret was to be disloyal, which brought on the guilt. You don't talk about it you just act normal and fit in.

When I first started addressing these issues I thought I was horrible for feeling the way I did. I had the rest of my family ganging up on me and calling me crazy and I became the outcast for telling the secret.

I've been fairly stable for about 10 years now and have addressed most of the childhood issues. I've noticed now that my sisters and brother are just now starting to face it. They are so embarrassed that I'm stable and they are walking on thin ice. I'm supposed to stay in the black sheep mode. They are starting to understand now. They are 50ish and just beginning there journey. That's really sad.

You can remain loyal and tell the secret. I love my parents and my family. I had to tell the secret and face it. I don't blame them because they were caught in the secret too. I felt so guilty at first, but the good thing for me is I didn't keep my feelings a secret from anyone. I've told them all how I feel and found closure with all of them. I've had to construct boundaries to keep myself from any further abuse. I keep my distance. They still don't know they are abusive.

I grew up thinking everything was normal as bad as it was. If everything was normal then it had to be me that was abnormal. I walked around for years wondering what was wrong with me.

Hugs,
MG
 
Old 05-13-2003, 04:45 AM
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The thing that is difficult for me is that when I read many of these things I don't read them through my own eyes. I read it through the Beav's eye's (beating myself up) or I read it through Beavette's eyes (stark fear for his future). What does anyone think that is about? Honestly that is what has kept me from approaching this topic up to now.

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Old 05-13-2003, 07:35 AM
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JT - yes, I know. Although my daughter did not go through the things that I did, she's certainly had her fair share. I was far from a perfect parent and it makes my stomach do a G-force roll whenever I think that I have probably damaged her in some ways. However, I guess I have to treat myself as kindly as possible here, and apply the same logic to myself as I do to my own parents: They were doing the best that they knew how, especially given the wounds that they suffered as children - far worse than mine. The horrors that my parents suffered, and I do mean horrors, make me cry. And I don't even know the half of it.

It hurts to think about my daughter - more than it hurts to think about myself. In my parent's time, there was no such term as "inner child." There is now, and help is available in numerous forms. I try to point my daughter towards the tools that I think might help her, and that's really all I can do. That, and say that I'm sorry and mean it. Oh, and to always let her know how much I love her.

Avoidance due to having to face my daughter's demons too hadn't occurred to me, but it's an interesting theory.

Love and hugs.
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Old 05-13-2003, 07:55 AM
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This is an awesome thread.

dop -
you are right, it was alot for a kid to go through watching her mother go through that, that is when I shut down. And if we would have been having this conversation before I got sober, my take on it was completely different. I worked the steps I discussed this in great detail with my first sponsor, I have let go of the blame for it, that I guess is why I say I was pretty normal and then in the next sentence talk about my mom have a nervous breakdown. I guess the statement can be very confusing. But as MG said so well, it is because I have worked through it myself. I did not remember being molested until just a few years ago. My HP does not give me more than I can handle, and HE knew I could not handle remembering that until then, I believe that with all my heart. I say my childhood was normal, a gift of my sobriety to have worked through those things. And the most interesting thing is I didn't even realized it until I read your response. There is nothing normal about watching your mom have a breakdown, that changed who I was as a person, as a female as a little girl. You are right I am looking back on it not only as an adult but as an adult who has been blessed to work through alot of stuff from the past due to my addiction. But it does not have to change who I am today and that is what is important...if that makes any sense.



MG I have siblings, that still can't even go there and it shows in their lives.

JT - my 4 cents for what it is worth. Regarding the Beavette, it is about how the situation is handled. I know my moms breakdown and me being molested are completely differenet situations than the Beavettes, but still it is about how the situation is handled with him. We never talked about things in my house, ever!! Talk to the little guy, as I am sure you do. Kids have to be given things in small doses that they can understand. He is lucky to have a grandma in recovery that understands how important it is to not stuff your feelings.!!!
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