Getting a lot of testimonials on the video I mentioned in my last post. Check it out if you’re having running issues. One way I check myself as I run is to see if far-off objects are bouncing up and down, which means I am. A little bounce is inevitable unless you’re sprinting, but you shouldn’t be pogo-sticking.
I’m also getting a lot of women telling me that they have some of the other kind of issues that I do. As I said to a friend: it may be the curse of the smart responsible woman – many of us
were forced into this role in some ways (usually by insufficient
worse – parenting plus something – or things – really bad happening). Not that I think
my personality isn’t mine, but my overwhelming sense of failure and shame if I don’t take care
of everyone and everything perfectly? That I could do without.
As for what exactly happened to me, I know I’ve been vague. It’s hard to spell it out (duh – it took over 30 years). Part of that is because my mother, whom I love dearly and who has grown into an amazing person, does not come off well. And part of it is because in some ways the exact things that happened don’t really matter.
But (some) of the story is: My brother and I were unwanted, to the point where my brother went 10 days without a name after he was born (because they hadn’t really believed it would happen, I guess?). My mother was immature, resentful, and lonely. My father was older, aloof, and moody. My parents took no pictures of us – I mean NONE. They rolled my crib into the bathroom and closed the door when I cried because I would wake my brother up (this is a “funny” family story). I felt amazed and lucky when either of them held me any longer than necessary. My father was sometimes fun and loving but sometimes violent, somewhat toward me but much more toward my older brother, who would have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum were he growing up these days. My mother was enraged by my brother too. I became hypervigilant and spent a lot of time trying to help him avoid punishment for typical Asperger behaviors. I tried to be perfect so as to avoid punishment myself. I drew picture after picture of a man spanking a child until my mother told me it was weird and I should stop.
That was the first 5 years. When I was 5 my father died in a motorcycle crash. Chaos of a different kind ensued, including a mother who intermittently did not parent and a tenuous financial situation. When I was 9 we moved to a new house where we were rather isolated. When I was 11 or 12 I was molested by a family member who was living with us for a time. I told my mother and the behavior stopped but she never discussed what she'd said to the person, nor did she discuss it with me any further. When I was 12 a boyfriend of my mother's moved in with us. He tortured and molested me over the next year and a half or so. He left and came back several times; I never knew when he would be there. I tried to tell my mother but she did not hear me. From the time my father died, I had been terrified of losing my mother too. I did what I had to do to keep the family from being broken apart.
My family was partly salvaged by my sane, responsible, caring stepfather, who entered the picture when I was 15. It took years, but my
mother grew up eventually. She
has apologized to me and my brother in a genuine way. She ended up caring for
my grandparents despite having always insisted she couldn’t and wouldn’t, and she set out quite consciously to be a nicer person overall. I was very angry with her for a long
time but when I forgave her, it was (and is)
real. (Her ex-boyfriend I doubt I will ever be able to forgive. I do not know what became of him and it is probably best that I don’t know. He should be old enough at this point that no one else is in danger.)
Many of the things my mother did I liked. I kept a mental list of what I did and didn’t want to do like her. And in fact I have stuck to that list. The main things I do differently (aside from watching for abuse, obviously): giving my son as much physical affection as he wants; not saying “you’re just feeling sorry for yourself”; not spanking; less criticism of everyone and everything; not freaking out in front of my kid; being willing to talk about sad things (ahem - aside from my own); making sure there is enough money; keeping the house clean and vermin-free; and not losing my keys all the damn time.
If you look at the risk factors for and symptoms of “complex PTSD,” I can check too many off. But I have compartmentalized things amazingly well. My self-image in most areas is pretty intact. I have avoided most self-destructive behaviors (workaholism being the hardest one to kick). I did have severe somatization (aka hypochondria) for a while but running seemed to cure it. I can trust people - thank heavens, because I have to trust a lot of them/you. And all of the good changes that I have made over the past few years are robust.
Hearing how I have taught people to become runners makes me happy because I know running is partly why I am as sane as I am. It has been one of my lifesavers. That's why I'll keep saying it: get out there, Maggots.