Boundaries Between Identities

Most often when I try to explain emotional things my tongue dries up and my mind goes blank and I crack a joke instead.

I wasn’t always like this. I used to write poetry, free form stuff that drew pictures in the mind of the reader and also created emotional response. I used to be in touch with myself, I think.

I haven’t been able to write poetry for years. I think I stopped during my second marriage. I don’t know if it was about the marriage or about being happy or about embracing religion or about being so busy working that I put in fifty plus hour weeks. I just stopped and never started again.

I don’t know if I ever explained myself properly, emotionally. I just know I used to write it down pretty clearly. I could write rants, too. Those emotional rants you write while crying, the ones you never wanted anyone else to see. I don’t cry anymore, either. I stopped crying and talking about emotion while I was with their father.

I joined a PTSD forum a few years ago and was flagged as being in violation of the rules because my paragraphs were not double spaced on my intro (see how I am doing it here, remembering this). I made maybe four comments and never went back. It hurt my feelings, to not be able to follow the rules. It brought up some deep pain in me that I know has been there since childhood. I was always in trouble, socially.

I was in touch with myself when I was very young. I knew what abuse was, from outside, when it was being done to others. I had boundaries and I had terrible crying fits that could last hours when I realized someone didn’t love me or had cheated or had hurt me in some way. My boundaries eroded from constant battering, on all fronts. Abuse wasn’t abuse anymore, it was how things were. It was what was to be expected if I wanted to keep my religious beliefs, my husband, my everything. It wasn’t until the children were being battered that I woke up and I remembered where the boundaries should be.

Most of those boundaries never came back. I tell my children all the time where their boundaries should be, how to respect the boundaries of others. But I haven’t got them anymore, myself.

I think it is a good thing I don’t date. I think it is the best thing I have done for my children apart from separating them from their abuser.

I worry all the time that it is not enough. I worry every time I am angry that I am abusive, that my children are being scarred. My own mother was pretty cold. I don’t remember much anger from her, or much feeling, really. She compliments me all the time now and I have no idea where it is coming from. She was not like that when I was a child. I have always responded to very verbal and very intense people, like my father. Which is not a good thing, necessarily. Very verbal and intense people are often self absorbed or abusive. I just couldn’t feel people who were more low key. So I worry that I am setting my kids up to expect outbursts from people, or scolding, or punishment when I make them clean up their messes or go to their rooms. Am I being hard on myself? Maybe. I don’t know the proper boundaries. I feel a sense of panic if they have no consequences, too. I am terrified to go easy and frightened of coming down too hard.

I don’t know how or where being autistic plays into this. I don’t know where I and autism differ (perhaps we do not) and I often do not find the PTSD until retrospect kicks in. I hate it, I hate the PTSD. I was the most patient person in the universe until PTSD. Now I am tired and I am distracted and I am irritable often enough that I worry how it affects my children.

I was sick with food poisoning for the past few days. None of the last minute Christmas stuff got done. There is no one to do it for me. I have to get it done and I have to do it while being tired and meeting my prior commitments. I have to keep the PTSD at bay. I don’t want to spend Christmas yelling at my kids, like I did this evening. Kids will goof off and break rules and violate boundaries with each other. Why do I expect more? PTSD is always so much worse with stress or fatigue.

Maybe I should try EMDR. Maybe I should talk about what happened to me.

Happy Holidays.

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6 thoughts on “Boundaries Between Identities

  1. I hope you are feeling better after the food poisoning and holidays. I could relate to a lot of what you said. I worry all the time that I am messing up my kids, worrying that I sometimes get too angry, am either too strict or too lenient with my kids.
    I worry about staying with their father, but don’t see any other option right now. I have to believe that my kids are better for having me present in their lives regardless of my flaws.

    I do think you are a good parent, and wish I was doing as well as you. You are not perfect but you are someone that can admit your mistakes and try to correct it, and your kids love you and will realize someday that you were trying your best given your circumstances. I have to agree with you that you have done a great thing for your kids by not dating. It is obvious that they come first in your life. I just hope that you have someone that is there for you such a friend or family member, or that you can be your own best friend and find a way to nurture yourself. Sometimes you need to be able to cry, or rant on paper, or turn the music up. Find those outlets for yourself even if its only for five minutes.

    I know I lost all of my creativity and expression when I married, became religious, and had kids. It felt like someone sucked the life out of me and all that was left was someone that sort of looked like me and did everything I was supposed to do while feeling very little of anything. Thankfully, the brainwashing wasnt permanent. It took some very hard realizations, but I feel much more myself these days and I have found that all the creativity I used to have was buried under all the restrictions of my life. On the outside not much has changed in my life, but I’ve started to write, and pursue old interests again.

    You should consider seriously that maybe you really should talk about what happened to you. You allude to it a lot in your writing, always indirectly. You are in therapy, I think, but if you’re not really talking about it then you are not getting your money’s worth and you are not really healing as much as surviving.

    Wishing you and your family peace for the new year!

    • I also died inside over a decade ago, and didn’t realize how awful I and my life had become until I began logging unpleasant incidents. After looking back over the log six months later I realized how badly I needed change. I do, thankfully, now have good friends who make things easier, and I do spend a half hour or hour each day doing things for me. The house is still messy but at least my activities are not born of obligation for that hour. I am not sure how good I am, I know what I can do better and I am striving for it. I really appreciate your support. I fantasize often that most two parent households are full of high fives that I am missing out on, so every positive comment helps give me a boost.
      I am torn regarding talking about it. PTSD makes that a bit risky. I have sometimes brought things up or immersed myself in things that create recollection and it can throw me off for a month. I suspect EMDR might help, but talk therapy would take twenty years to do what three EMDR sessions could do. Some survivors are recommending Somatic Experiencing therapy, which seems a bit fringish but makes sense for PTSD. So I don’t know what to do. Talk about it and deal with the aftermath, or just deal with the aftermath I have going on instead of times a hundred? Look for alternatives? Still torn. I have put the decision off until after this Special Olympics season is over.
      I am so glad that you feel more yourself. It helps so much to be in touch with yourself and to embrace your own interests. It really truly makes you stronger.
      I hope the New Year brings you only more of that, strength and creativity and YOU. Best wishes to you and yours!

      • In regards to logging unpleasant incidents- did you log what was going on at the time, or all the previous unpleasant events as well? I once tried to list all the incidents I could think of and it was pretty alarming. I look at it whenever I start doubting myself and my right to be angry about the things that have happened to me. It is so easy for me to start thinking I’m crazy for feeling so unhappy. I feel like I am a bad person because I can’t shrug things off or pretend they didn’t happen, or act like I am grateful for this “test”.

        It is true that talking about it is a risk. If I let my mind take a certain path, it will mess me up for the rest of the day or even several days. Still, you probably will benefit from it, but finding a good time when you are ready to talk about it is difficult. I’m sure when you are ready you will take steps in that direction. Don’t forget to acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished for your kids and yourself already.

        I am glad that you have good friends and are making time for yourself. I think those are the two things that I need most. I’m doing better at making time for myself, but social Isolation is so damaging and it is difficult to get out of. Thank you for your kind thoughts and support. I really appreciate it!

      • When I noticed I needed to keep a log I began from there rather than going back at all. Just to make sure my log was accurate. There was a lot of gaslighting and I was exhausted from three babies in four years and thus I was not confident in my powers of recollection. So I wrote them as they came. I also used my log, like you do, to bolster my sense of reality and self. He found it, once. I have it, still, but it is missing about three months that he took out… I managed to convince him it was to log incidents as an attempt to pattern his PTSD.
        I did write down some really scary stuff in Phoenician (a friend and I used to pass notes in class in that written form), and he couldn’t be bothered to translate, luckily.
        I really think, and I mean no disrespect to my real life friends, that my online communications did me a world of good in regards to easing the isolation. I had to wait until I was out, but when I was confident enough to reach out after getting free I was immediately rewarded. There are definitely some high quality people out here on the net. I assure the gratitude is mutual regarding the support. It does mean a great deal to me. Best wishes, always!

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