New Level of Understanding about my Childhood - and Adulthood

by Deb

I'm reaching a new level of understanding about my childhood and the source of my inner struggles.

Unexpectedly, my stepmother has opened up to me and shared a great deal about my childhood. I have learned why my Dad abandoned me physically at a young age. Even bigger, though, I learned that my Mom did not care for me as much as I thought she did. I have been perplexed my whole life about why she seemed to care so deeply for me once in a while, and then go for months without responding to me or my needs as a child or as an adult.

Then I made the discovery this year in an email she wrote. She said that she was selfish as a parent. I felt inclined to reassure her that that was not the case. But as I reflected on what she wrote, what my stepmother wrote, and my own experiences with her, I could find no better explanation for the severe emotional abandonment that occurred mostly after she remarried, but also before then.

She even invited me to leave home at age 15, which left me bewildered. I ended up leaving home before age 16. In my mom's classic style, after I responded to her letter about selfishness, sharing and asking questions, I haven't heard from her again in 5 months so far.

I have the typical sad stories about the sexually inappropriate stepfather, the mother who would not protect her daughter, the father who left the daughter, and the parents who shamed her for normal childlike behavior. But I also have poignant times of feeling truly loved by my father and receiving kindness from my mother. It has been difficult to put the pieces together and understand the contradictory messages that created so much pain and unbearable loneliness that I suffer to this day.

Lots of things ring true for me in reading this article. I hate to be bored. No, make that HATE to be bored. Which may be why I am chronically late. If I am early, I feel terrible discomfort with my own thoughts while waiting. I have tried to be the good girl to win the approval of my parents and have rarely (if ever) been able to feel anger at them. I have horrible fear of being judged.

I want to curl up and die if anyone criticizes me, so I'm trying to start my own business rather than work for someone who could judge me and find fault with me. Yet, I'm afraid to promote my business so I stay at home most of the time in isolation. I have had nightmares for my entire adult life about REALLY bad, disturbing things -- especially if I'm about to step out of my shell and take a chance in the real world. I also have recurring nightmares about being with someone who loves me, only to find out that they don't and left me alone to be eaten or hunted down by monsters. Oh, and I'm a perfectionist -- again, to avoid criticism. And that makes me unable to get anything done in a timely manner.

I'm often frozen in indecision and analysis. I have always struggled with addictions including cigarettes, alcohol, and pot. Once I quit those, I started a shopping addiction, but now that I have little money, I have an eating addiction. I have had deep depression, but I also have outbursts of anger that leave me feeling ashamed. I can also relate to the idea of having the phony self that I show to people so they will approve and won't see the real me.

I'm at the bottom financially. I'm afraid of losing my home. My bank account is overdrawn. Yet I wake up every day and do the same thing -- fritter away my time. And have nightmares every night about going out to promote a business which results in unspeakably scary or shameful events happening.

Gosh, I wish something could help me with this. I could really use some help.

~ Deb

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Apr 06, 2010
To Deb
by: Kathleen D. Cone


Since you are unable to go out and get the work you need in order to do the business you want to do. (And we all need financial stability).

Just for now, look for a job so you can restablize yourself financially... *But don't give up on the idea of someday being able to have your own business*.

Not everyone can wear every hat necessary to run a successful business. It's nearly impossible because there are so many different jobs to do.

And not everyone is suited for all the jobs. This is not something you need to feel bad about.

To do 'outside sales' for example you practically have be fearless, to a larger degree..and it takes alot of time, and an ability to accept rejection, if you hope to do well, That's why there is such a larger turn over in 'outside sales' jobs

For example:

Donald Trump says, "It takes 11 people to successfully run any enterprise."

Okay, a small business wouldn't necsssarilly need 11 people, but the idea in my telling you that, is that unless you can afford to hire the people you need to do the jobs you 'can't' it's probabaly best to...

Just for now, and until you can get back on your feet financially, look for another job where you are working for someone else and try again in the future, when you are ready. I think that will reduce alot of your stress.

And in the meantime, keep coming back here to the "internet of the mind" get into support groups in your area and you can even make it your side job to, really work on learing how to be the real you.

Much love, Kathy

Apr 06, 2010
To Deb
by: Angie Carter

Hi Deb, I can relate to much of your story. Many of the same feelings and coping styles (or should I say non-coping styles??) What really spoke to me was the 'sometimes I felt very cared for or loved and other times not'. I have very mixed signals from my childhood which (obviously) leaves me feeling very mixed up most of time.

I have done a lot of counseling, support group work, individual re-parenting, and other various things to help me heal from the abandonment, shame and anger. I have made great strides, but honestly there is no quick fix.

For me, there is no more important work than this journey of self discovery and healing. The more healing that takes place the better I can function in the world and take care of myself.

I relate to having addictions (alcohol and drugs) and then when I am in recovery for those, something else pops up! the shopping or eating - same thing here.

For me I also have to increase my spirituality because I cannot do it alone and besides, I don't have the power. I not exactly overly religious, but I have seen the power of prayer work in my life over and over again. If I could just fix myself I would and save myself all this effort put forth for recovery. It just doesn't work that way for me.

I attend A.A. (my addiction) F.A.- Families Anonymous- because I had a terrible time with my son's addiction and I also attend ACDF - Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families (or called ACoA). These support groups and specific recovery programs have allowed me to experience enormous healing, offer lots of much needed support, and a connection to a power greater than myself and also a way for me to give back to new people coming into recovery.

I hope you will continue on with your journey of uncovering, discovering and discarding. It is worth it!!

Apr 06, 2010
New Level of Understanding about my Childhood - and Adulthood
by: Anonymous

This has some really great reading. You never mentioned whether or not you seeked professional counseling or support groups.

I have/had a lot of your same issues. There is help out there. Deep down you have the strength to do what you have to do. I find that turning to my Lord (Higher Power) helps me immensely.

Good luck in your recovery. It will take a while, but you can do it.

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