- getting my wisdom teeth pulled...without a pain killer!
- walking over a bed of hot, burning embers
- having my fingernails pulled out, one by one and dipping my fingers in vinegar
- listening to a U.S. History lecture in eleventh grade
Get the picture? What is that I'm doing that is so painful?
I'm completing my "Autobiographical Outline" as part of my treatment program! I'm not sure anything can be more painful right now...and I'm only to age 6!!!
It's interesting to me how life seems to work. My life seems to be full of opportunities to reflect and look to past recently, when that is the last place I want to be looking right now. There is so little about my history that I want to remember, and those few memories that are good seem to slip further and further out of reach each day.
One of the questions that I was asked to answer went like this:
How did your family show feelings toward each other? a. Anger? b. Love? c. Closeness? d. Fear?
I was hoping it was actually a multiple choice question, but I don't think my therapist would see the humor in that perspective. Even as a multiple choice question, it would have been hard to choose any one of those feelings!
Part of my problem is that I remember so very little of my childhood. Sadly, I'm afraid there is a lot that I should remember and my mind continues to protect itself, so I stay in a perpetual state of fogginess. So how do I answer a question like this?
First, I think my family were experts at NOT showing their feelings...at least not their true feelings! I don't even know if my parents could honestly say that they loved each other, even though they lived together as man and wife for over 40 years. Even though they kissed (usually three quick pecks) and said "I love you", it was very seldom visibly displayed in any meaningful way. I learned that you didn't share your feelings because they weren't honored, and it usually resulted in pain or humiliation.
As I look back and try to picture that little boy growing up, I see an image of a child that was lost, or trying to get lost. I just wanted to be a in a cocoon where it might feel safe, but that place didn't exist. I learned to bury myself in my books and in my fantasies, but there was always a last page of the story or reality calling me back. These days, as I live a life that I would call "lonely" at best, I recall that I've felt this way before and it isn't a good feeling...and it scares me sometimes. Not in the sense that "I'm so lonely, I should just disappear!" It's more of a fear that in the past, I found relationship in chat rooms that filled a void left from childhood and that practice cost me everything. My wife. My family. My job. My career. My future. I never want to find myself in that place again.
My childhood was filled with loneliness. I never learned to be feel close to anyone. Even though I think I had a decent relationship with my sister and brothers, I can't define them as close. And there was never a true sense of trust there. I remember being upset about something when I was about 9 or 10 years old and I had planned to run away from home. I had written my note and stuck it in my clothes drawer in the dresser that I shared with my two brothers. One of them found it and shared it with the others. In a Disney movie, they would have tried to talk me out leaving but that didn't happen. Instead, it was an invitation to help me pack. I don't really remember what happened after that...I just know that I didn't leave. More than likely, I simply built up another layer of hardness around my heart and receded a little deeper into my own world...my own escape.
Remembering is hard...and it's painful. And it's not something that I really want to do or that I'm very good at. But on the other hand, I also realize that it is essential to my healing. In order to move forward, I need to understand those things in my life that formed and molded me. Not to point fingers or accuse. I know that my family loves me...and that even when we were growing up, they loved the best that the knew how. We just didn't know how very well.
But there is always hope...at least I believe there is. I believe in the greatest Transformer that ever lived, and I know that He will continue to bring healing and love to my life. He'll be there to help fill the void of loneliness that has plagued me for as long as I can remember. And He will continue to help peel back the layers of my memory and reveal my life's story to me.