Deep breath in, release slowly. Find my center, my calm.
This post is going to contain some personal experiences dealing with sexual assault and being raised by a narcissistic mother. If these things are problematic for you, I understand if you want to stop reading now. Words have power. And I need to say these things in my safe space – this blog – in order to help change my internal narrative.
One thing I’ve learned through my counseling sessions is that it’s okay to do things for myself. That I’m not being a selfish bitch if I put myself first for a change. I can’t remember a time when my mother didn’t come down on me for daring to ask to do something for myself. I’d like to go play with friends – not until XYZ is done to her satisfaction. Weekend sleepover? Not happening until the laundry’s done. Not just mine, mind you. My sister and I were responsible for all the laundry in the house.
I get it, to a point. My parents both worked. No child should ever grow up feeling like the only reason they were wanted was to do the chores no one else wanted to.
I’ve worked while being a parent. I’ve had times when I didn’t work. Yes, my kids had chores. But they never were responsible for my mess. For my laundry. For cleaning my bedroom. They learned how to clean up after themselves, not everyone else in the house.
That’s how I was raised. I was taught at a young age that I was responsible for everything else that needed to happen, on someone else’s list, before I could do something for me.
For 2 years of my childhood, I was repeatedly raped and molested. During one assault, my rapist said that I shouldn’t fight back, just accept what was going on. Because this was something guys ‘needed’ and that I was a girl, which meant this is what I was made for.
I couldn’t be good if I didn’t give them what they needed.
Saying no/fighting back hurt far worse than going numb. Emotionally, physically, and mentally.
I had to surrender what I wanted for what they ‘needed’.
After that particular assault, I felt like it was my fault. I wasn’t supposed to go into someone’s house without permission. If I hadn’t disobeyed that rule, it wouldn’t have happened.
It would’ve. It continued to.
Now, I’m balancing a 45 hour work week (counting my commute), 1-2 hours of chores (laundry, dishes, etc) after work, and doing things with my husband with writing. Somewhere in there, I have to carve out an hour to take a bath. It calms me down, helps me prepare for bed.
Anxiety from my upbringing, combined with PTSD, makes me do all this stuff for other people before I can relax and do for me. I have to. Deviating from it makes me stress out more.
Currently, I’m getting home around 2 pm. Bath is at 6, in bed no later than 8. When your alarm goes off at 4:20 am and your anxiety tends to give you middle-of-the-night insomnia…that schedule is important to keep.
In 4 hours, I have chores to do. Cats to pay attention to. Dinner to eat, my lunch for the next day to make. Bills to pay. Watch a show with the spouse. And somehow squeeze in social media and writing.
I need to add a chapter to ‘Sword & Soul’. I know where it goes, have the chapter heading done. Fixed the numbering of the chapters that come after it. I know what needs to happen, and some of the dialogue is in my head.
What I haven’t had was the time to sit down and actually write it. Because other things keep making demands on my time, pushing it further down my list until it’s shoved onto the next day.
But I have to learn that it’s okay to do things I want to do, need to do, that are what make me feel whole. Complete. Not some fractured person whose pieces are held together out of sheer stubbornness. I have to realize that it’s okay to put my mental and emotional well-being in front of what others want from me.
I’m not responsible for everyone else’s happiness, and I’ve let mine be stifled by shouldering that burden.
I can say no.
I can choose to do what makes me happy.
I know these things, as an adult. The child in me who was taught the opposite is struggling to come to terms with it. She’s hurting; her scars are deep.
And they hurt like you can’t imagine.
BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm