I haven’t written a (public) post in a while. Not much has inspired me and I have had writers block. Until now.
Earlier, somebody said something and it was one of those moments when BAM!!!! It hits you. Something so blindingly obvious that I have only just realised.
Back when I was studying my nursing degree, I witnessed some awful things and I experienced a lot of trauma for someone just 19 years of age. I often wonder what was it about me that made me break down when my friends and fellow students managed to stay ‘sane’. It’s difficult to compare myself to others because I see others in so much more high regard than I do myself. Although I know part of it was to do with the fact that I am extremely sensitive to others’ feelings, I also know the main reason was because I had some very deep, underlying emotional issues. The nursing course didn’t “cause” my mental breakdown. It simply triggered those unresolved issues.
When I was very young, my dad cut off contact with me and my sister. I always thought it had affected my sister more than me, and put that down to her being older than me and being able to remember more about what happened. I could never see that that was where my abandonment issues lay. It’s obvious right?
I was too young to remember my dad or the split and his abandonment. I can’t say I have ever felt angry towards him. I always thought “it didn’t affect me cos I was too young”. Only now can I see that it DID affect me. And certain experiences throughout my childhood reinforced my abandonment issues that I didn’t even know existed.
I always remember when I was little, I had this huge fear of admitting how I felt. My mum knew at times that I wasn’t ok, and I even remember her asking me and trying to encourage me to talk to her. There was nothing she could have said or done to make me open up about my feelings. I would always have an excuse as to why I was ever upset etc. I have worked on this in therapy at different points, and I have always maintained I didn’t have abandonment issues. When I was in mental health services I would argue with the “professionals” ’til I was blue in the face and they would listen but still come to the conclusion that I did indeed have abandonment issues.
But nobody ever explained it to me. Nobody ever pointed it out to me. And I believed it was a fear of my mum dying (which in my mind classes as abandonment) that was exxacerbating my mental health problems. I wouldn’t be able to cope if my mum died and it sent me into the most darkest places at times. I’d linked the trauma I’d experienced whilst nursing, to the fear of losing my mum. Death and grief triggered my breakdown, therefore it was all about death and grief. When actually, it wasn’t. It was about abandonment. Of course part of me will always want to protect my loved ones from my own pain (within reason), but that was never what it was about. The fear of speaking openly to my mum when I was little was there because I was so scared of her being upset… but it was more about me. It was my way of protecting myself from being abandoned by my mum; my only stable and constant caregiver. I was already insecure thanks to my dad disappearing off the scene and other events in my childhood. I couldn’t risk doing anything that would drive my mum away. Obviously with hindsight I know my mum would never have abandoned me if I’d opened up to her. But the little child-kerri didn’t know that. The little me must have internalised all that happened and encouraged me to believe that I was the problem. Why else would a father walk away from his daughters? Why else would people you trust and rely on as a child purposely hurt and abuse you? I was the common denominator. It had to be me. So I became someone else. Someone who wasn’t me!
My dad left. I was abused by different males. I was threatened by abusers that I would lose my mum and sister if I ever told anyone what was happening. Of course, it makes sense, that I had a huge fear of abandonment. Clamming up was my defense mechanism to avoid further abandonment.
Why have I never seen this before?
Or, genuine question, have I seen this before and forgotten? My memory really is that bad 🤣
Ps. Mum… I love you. Thankfully I can now be open and honest with you after lots of practice over the years. You and my beautiful sister have always been there for me, and thanks to you 2 and many others I am here to tell my tale, share my insights and offer hope to others.
When you tell yourself you are protecting others from your pain ask yourself this; what are you protecting yourself from.
The theory of evolution explains that we all have an innate drive to survive, and that everything we do is to survive. So how is your behaviour helping you to survive? Even unhealthy behaviours like takng drugs to numb your emotional pain; helps you survive because you believe you cannot survive the emotions/feelings you have inside.
My last point is this… your feelings and emotions cannot hurt you. Yes they are horrible and feel unbearable, but they DO pass and you can survive them. Have hope.