Random Ramblings

Why do I self destruct?

I watched this video this morning and I was sobbing, literally crying on my keyboard.  I actually had to stop this video, have a good cry, then finish watching the video. I then wrote this post and sobbed some more. This video may as well have been written for me, it rang THAT true. (This is NOT one of JP Sears funny videos.)

I LOVE my sisters. (All of them.) I have a wonderful life. I have a great husband. An amazing child. Things are going well. And yet…there’s a part of me that remains guarded. I don’t accept nurturing. I push away the things (and people) that make me happy. I wrestle with depression, especially when things are going well.

When I watched this video, I thought about one of my earliest memories.

 

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Me with my sister when I was six and she was two.

 

My mother was sick with multiple sclerosis. She had minor symptoms before my sister was born, but became VERY ill after my sister’s birth. I was only four years old. I remember being soooo excited when I found out that I was going to be a big sister. I remember looking forward to my sister’s birth. My parents assured me that I’d never be replaced, that my sister would only add to our family. But my mom became very sick after my sister was born and I was sent away. I spent TWO weeks with one set of grandparents, then TWO weeks with the other set of grandparents while my mom recovered.

As an adult, a month away from home is a long time, but not that long. However, I was only four. FOUR weeks is a LONG time when you’re only four-years-old. An eternity. All I knew was that as soon as my mom went to the hospital, I had to go away. I didn’t get to see my sister come home from the hospital. I didn’t get to see my mom for a month. I didn’t know what was happening. I just knew that the new baby was here, and I couldn’t go home, not even for a visit. The baby was here and I wasn’t allowed to go home.

Both of my grandmothers did the best they could, trying to reassure me that everything was going to be alright, but I remember being so lonely, and so hurt, and so scared, and I felt completely rejected and abandoned. When I finally saw my new sister, she was around three or four weeks old. My dad brought her to his mother’s house. My mom wasn’t with him. I was so happy to finally see the baby. I remember that she was dressed like a little doll with a soft white blanket and a frilly dress. I wanted to hold her. She was so pretty. I’d never seen an actual baby up close like that before. But I wasn’t allowed to touch her, and when my Dad went home, he took the baby with him and left me behind again.

I have never experienced anything close to that intensity of pain as I felt when my father left with my perfect little doll-baby sister. I cried for days. I have never been that miserable since. Four-year-old me felt like my parents had completely abandoned her. It’s pretty common for kids to feel like the new baby will replace them. For four weeks…my younger sister DID replace me. I went from being an only child to being virtually homeless. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my house again. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my mother again. To my knowledge, my parents didn’t have a return date in mind. They were waiting for my mother to recover from childbirth. But her health took such a bad turn, she was never the same as she was before my sister’s birth.

I also have a strong memory of my grandmother being an advocate on my behalf. I remember her getting into a fight with my father about my going home. My parents didn’t think they were ready to take me back. My grandmother insisted it was time.

For a young child, this only hurt more because I KNEW my parents didn’t want me, not really. They could say that they missed me. They could tell me how much they loved me. But I felt ashamed. I wondered what I’d done wrong. I wondered why I wasn’t good enough. I thought I must have been bad. I didn’t think I was a bad kid. I was so shy. But I must have done something wrong, or my parents would have loved me enough to want me with them.

When I got older, I understood how sick my mother was. As an adult, I do know that my parents loved me, that the time probably flew by for them. I really don’t think it occurred to them that I was being harmed emotionally. My father was worried about his sick wife. They had a new baby to take care of. For my parents, I’m sure the time must have gone by in a blur. Many years later, both of my parents admitted that they would have handled things differently, had they know how upsetting this experience had been for me.

Honestly, I thought I’d put this matter behind me. It was traumatic, but it’s been forty years. I’m close with my sister. We live in the same town. We raised our kids together almost more like brothers than as cousins. I don’t hate her. I don’t hate my parents. Life goes on…right?

And then I watched this video and the floodgates opened. All those feeling I’ve struggled with for most of my life, of not being good enough, of not being worthy enough. I’ve been married to the same man for 17 years and there are still days when I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is this the wound at my core? Deep down, am I still a little girl waiting for the people she loves most in this world to abandon her? Have I come to expect rejection? I feel like I insulate myself from others so I’ll never get hurt, but at my core, is this the reason? I’m a scared little girl, afraid to trust other people.

Holy WOW! I feel utterly gobsmacked!!!

Thank you, JP Sears!

 

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17 thoughts on “Why do I self destruct?”

        1. My parents thought I was in good hands. After all, I was staying with my grandparents. My grandparents loved me. They all assumed I’d be fine. Also, they assumed that a four-year-old wouldn’t really remember being away from home for a month. They thought I was so young, what difference would it make in the long run?

          As an adult, I don’t know what my parents could have done differently. My mom WAS very ill, incapable of taking care of two young children immediately after giving birth. She couldn’t take care of my younger sister. She couldn’t take care of herself. They didn’t know she HAD multiple sclerosis until after the birth of my sister. They knew something was wrong, but back then, she didn’t have a label for her disease. It wasn’t until my sister’s birth that my mom’s symptoms REALLY came out. My dad took care of my mom and my baby sister while they tried to sort everything out, but they weren’t in a big hurry to bring me home to a sick mother. (I’m sure the situation was a nightmare for both of them.) They weren’t expecting my mom to get sick, to lose coordination in her hands and legs, to be in so much pain. I think they thought I’d be better off staying away until Mom was better. I think they were hoping her symptoms were temporary. They weren’t. She never recovered and gradually got sicker as the years progressed, but they had NO way of knowing what the future held back then.

          Still, it’s funny how we hold onto things, how four-year-old me didn’t fully recover from this experience. And it explains why adult me has a TERRIBLE time trusting people, why I always look at ANY happy situation with skepticism. I learned at four that happy situations, like the birth of a new baby, can turn into a nightmare. That moms can get sick and NOT get better. That parents can go away. That everything I thought I knew was true can end in a heartbeat. But until yesterday, I never put it all together. I assumed I was carrying around baggage from my teen years, from having to take on so much responsibility because my mother was ill. I suppose I didn’t look back far enough because I didn’t WANT to think about it. Too painful! And yet…this is one of my earliest memories.

          Just coming to terms with the WHY of my negativity has made me feel lighter than I have in YEARS. I don’t know if I can change anything. This moment in my past is still a part of me, but I’m not four anymore. I’m an adult. An adult who wasn’t expecting to have a major “BREAKTHROUGH” while watching a Youtube video. LOL That’s like…thousands of dollars worth of therapy! (I was just looking for something funny to watch.) If my experience can help someone else, so much the better. 🙂

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          1. We all have triggers that wake memories. I hope it is eventually a good thing because you can now face it and understand where it came from. I am sure understanding why you were left goes a long way to knowing they had difficult choices that they didn’t know would hurt you. Merry Christmas brave lady.

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            1. It was IMMEDIATELY freeing. Talked with my sister last night, the one in the photo. All she could say was that she wished she could remember being the only child for 4 weeks AND of course Mom and Dad kept her around, because she’s so darn cute!! LMAO!!! (Nothing like siblings to keep it real.) Interestingly enough, one of my sister’s first memories is waiting with me during all the doctor appointments in the years that followed. Our mother was put through a variety of tests while the doctors tried to diagnose our mother’s illness. I was still VERY young, but it was my job to keep an eye on her and make sure nobody stole my sister out of the doctor’s waiting room. Looking back, I would NEVER ask a six-year-old to babysit a two-year-old in a doctor’s waiting room, but things were different in those days. My sister said that I have always been in her memories, even in her earliest memories, which is probably why we’re still so close.

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  1. This must have been a hard post to share. I’ve never been through the traumatic experience you did, but I can feel the pain in the post. I read a book that said the first step to healing is being aware of old wounds because it’s the wounds we acquired in childhood that have the greatest impact on us when we’re adults. JP Sears really has a beautiful way of addressing this.

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    1. Thank you! I’m not trying to throw blame at anyone. Adult me totally understands that my parents did the best they could. But, until I saw this video, I didn’t realize where all my fear was coming from. It was like an audible click, and then water-works.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt like I HAD to share my story. Just understanding WHERE my pain originated from made me feel so much lighter. (I swear, I was looking at funny/ha-ha videos. I never planned on having a breakthrough moment.)

      Adult me doesn’t blame my parents. If anything, the older I get, the more I feel compassion for what it must have been like to BE my parents, to be married, with all the happy expectation people have, only to have this horrible illness, multiple sclerosis, ruin their plans.

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  2. I so appreciate you sharing your story. The pain and I imagine utter despair you felt as a four year old. At that age our very existence, survival is a stake when our parents are not there, when they walk away like your father did at the end of his visit.

    While my story is different I feel a sense of companionship. Like, “here is someone who could fully understand, empathize with what I went through.”

    I will now watch the video.

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    1. And the thing is, I love my dad. We’re close. He was a good father, NOT a perfect father, but he tried to do his best. At the same time, I’ve always had a hard time trusting people. ALWAYS. I was the oldest kid and my mother’s illness shaped our entire family. As an adult, I understand how devastating it must have been to have a new baby, a four-year-old, and a wife who was relatively fine before and during her pregnancy, then suddenly very ill immediately after giving birth. It must have been horrible for my parents. I’m sure the family didn’t want me to see my mother this way. I’m sure they were hoping her symptoms were temporary. At the same time, I also know that infants are a LOT of work. They don’t sleep through the night, etc. Adult me REALLY understands this, especially after spending time thinking about their circumstances. And my grandparents LOVED me so much. I know that my parents thought this would be the best thing for me, to stay with people who loved me until my parents got a handle on everything. BUT, little four-year-old me couldn’t understand ANY of this, emotionally. And now I GET it. Because I’m NOT four. It’s been forty years. By looking back, and FEELING the pain for what it was, and allowing myself to cry and feel and mourn, I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. By allowing myself to fully feel the root cause of WHY I feel like I’m not enough, the shame of feeling like I’m no good… I don’t know… I actually feel emotionally closer to my dad and my family. Does that make any sense? (Because it doesn’t make any sense to me, but it’s how I feel.) It’s like an audible click, this is was the root of a great deal of my pain…but I didn’t understand it until I saw the video. It explains a LOT of my actions over the years.

      I don’t think I was ready to fully feel and address the source of my pain before this. We tend to shy away from the things that hurt. We usually don’t give ourselves permission to FEEL the pain to its full extent, to embrace it even. WOW! It feels like I was carrying around a weight, and now I’m finally able to drop it. It feels like I’ve been dancing around my self-esteem issue, but I’ve been treating the symptoms, not the root cause.

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  3. It seems like the content of this video has been a source of healing for you, and that you feel relieved of a weight you have been carrying. Feeling lighter, more clarity and understanding of yourself?

    Liked by 1 person

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