I honestly don’t know when my mind shattered or if I was simply born in pieces, but I do know my one safe place was gone before I was four. Grandpa endured a lot of nonsense and rules from his micro-managing daughter to be in my life, and when he died, there was no one to provide me refuge, so unknowingly, escaping became my safety. I didn’t plan it, and I don’t know how much went on before he died, I just know high tension became my normal. I was a very insecure child, but I couldn’t express it or let it show. How does a kid hide their insecurity or share their feelings of insecurity with the people who make them feel insecure? To further complicate the issue I lived with those people.
Thankfully, I had a number of “experts” sharing my existence. As an adult, before being healed, I tried to gain “normalcy” through therapy. In discovery, I referred to the other personalities as the “experts.” As a child, those experts were master performers to meet the never ending demands of my fearful and micro-managed childhood. My younger sister bit and hit, but I was not allowed to defend myself, since I was bigger. As for bigger, my mom used a number of disparaging names and adjectives toward me. Daddy was a young, hard working, anger driven man, so although he was one of those “hands on” dads, he was gone a lot, working to make money. When he was home, he seemed to want to enjoy himself, but he was often pressured into the in the position of enforcer . . . Home was definitely not a place of refuge for me. Although I didn’t consciously choose the dissociative identities, I did learn very quickly that I was expected to take everyone’s word for what happened and I simply couldn’t prove otherwise. There’s no place like home” has a completely different meaning for someone like me . . . and as a child, I was very thankful to find those places that were not like home.
I recently watched part of a video that brought back a memory. When I was very young, before my sister was born, I had a German Shepherd. I loved that dog and she loved me. She loved me so much, my parents had to be very careful about how they treated me around her, so one day Kristi was gone. I was told she scared someone in the neighborhood and they gave her away to be guard dog at a warehouse. I wanted to believe that, but I didn’t. Before the age of four, I realized these people did not make me feel safe, and I really didn’t trust them either. I could not wait to grow up! I grew up in Kansas and I remember the very first time I watched the Wizard of Oz. Even as a young girl, I could not understand why Dorothy wanted to get back to Kansas.
By the time I reached school age, I was definitely aware of my awkwardness, and also very aware that what happened at home was not to be shared. When I got to school, I found myself particularly fond of the older strict teachers. They were consistent and that was something new and refreshing for me. I didn’t fit in well with the other children. I was called names and even hit, but I didn’t realize I was bullied until much later. I remember going home and telling my mom what happened the day a girl hit me in the face, at school. She did nothing, except ask me if I hit her back. I said, “No,” and she said, “Good.” The name calling hurt my feelings more than being physically hit, I think. In spite of the treatment, school became my safe place.
First grade was wonderful. My teacher was so straightforward. That was back in the day that teachers still had paddles, but she never used it on me. I wasn’t a bad child at school, I couldn’t figure out how I could be such a disappointment to my mom, so much so, she’d have to have Daddy deal with me. I just didn’t know what I was doing wrong . . . I was never in trouble for doing horrible things. I didn’t want to get in trouble. I was always in trouble for making my mom yell and disappointing Daddy, but unlike the teachers, they wouldn’t tell me what it would take to make them happy. I certainly wanted to please my parents, because their expression of displeasure was very hurtful. Being a child was just so painful and confusing.