help it all go away
September 2, 2009 7:51 AM Subscribe
Bad memories are interrupting my life. What do I do and how do I cope with it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I had a great upbringing in lots of ways and my mum remains a great lady, but my feeling about family is coloured by the way my dad behaved - from age 9 to when I left home, I was subject to his enormous mood swings and temper - when my mother was out at work, he would often find a small misdemeanour to get angry about, then spend hours shouting at me until I was hysterical, then shout at me again for 'snivelling', calling me names (stupid, boring, moronic, that my untidy room caused his heart attack), and hitting me over the head, sometimes with implements such as a book or a teatray. On one occasion he didn't believe me when I said I had not taken his batteries, and kicked a hole in the bathroom door while a schoolfriend of mine who was staying over was on the other side. (Perhaps co-incidentally, I've suffered from migraine since I was nine, and my brother has recently seen the hospital after severe headaches and they found something in his brain which requires medication.) Outside of this, he was overbearing, wouldn't allow me to speak up or disagree with him (at twenty, saying 'calm down' led to him getting so angry he spat in my face and told me that if I spoke to him like that again I'd never be allowed to cross the doorstep ever again) didn't take an interest in my life or congratulate me if something went well, would ignore visiting friends
and boyfriends in favour of the TV but say things like 'when you go out looking scruffy people I know might see you and it will embarrass me' and would be incredibly rude and dismissive about anything he didn't agree with, down to the smallest choices. In my early twenties I undertook therapy on this as I was waking up with flashbacks and wanted to leave it behind. When he died, my family forgot how much of an arsehole he could be (my mother and he did not speak for six months because she shouted at him during an argument, and he would throw his rubbish in bags out of the upstairs window rather than walk through the livingroom, where she was, to the bin) and thought that I was less upset about his death because I was pretending it wasn't happening - I'd rather not change that. What did upset me was the effect it had and has on my mum.
Anyway, last time I had the flashback thoughts was just before a nervous breakdown, and for the past couple of months it's been happening again. It feels like I'm back in that situation again and equally powerless - like someone's yelling at me and telling me that all the negative thoughts I have are true, and I can't answer back. I'm terrified something is about to break again, and I don't know how to deal with it - I found therapy the first time very difficult, there's almost a taboo on discussing less than perfect family relationships (for years nobody knew why I would get in a bad mood before father's day) and I find this extremely difficult to talk about. I had an argument with my boyfriend at the weekend and one of the things he said unwittingly reminded me of it all, and I couldn't stop crying - as I find it difficult enough to talk about this, I couldn't explain to someone who was angry with me, and he just thought I was putting it on. I finished a relationship once before - albeit one that had been going wrong for some time - because the way he was acting (breaking my things, shouting at me in an incredibly nasty way, getting physical, not giving a shit if I was upset) reminded me too much of the situation in my teenage years and I felt pretty angry with myself for putting myself in one like that again. Now it seems like it's wrecked another relationship and it's not generally doing me any good, either.
I feel like I've spent years not able to tell people why I get upset, and I feel like I don't want to go through it anymore - being someone with 'triggers' or 'daddy issues'. hearing that critical voice constantly in my head and not being able to take the present at face value, going through another breakdown and losing aspects of my life that I've worked hard to keep in place.But I don't think I can go through life with this happening every few months or couple of years. I'm not sure what to do anymore.