I just watched a program on MSNBC called "In A Child's Best Interest" about children in the court system because of abuse and neglect. A few years ago when watching programs like this, I felt a strong affinity with "at-risk" kids - that someone should help "them." As time has passed I can see that I am them. I can see that I was "at risk" and although I am much less so now, remain "at risk" not for crime so much but for drug/alcohol abuse and suicide.
Dr. T was so right! If I saw a program where a person turned out like me after the loss of a parent through death, another parent through divorce, and then an entire adolecence of neglect, I would say "Wow- he/she really beat the odds! They may not be a CEO, but for what they came from, they are remarkable!"
She was right, part of my problem is I am not understanding the reality, I am a traumitzed child. I can't compare my situation to people from intact, nurturing families, because they have the major advantage of healthy childhood development. (side note- they don't deserve my ire for not seeing what they have. Everyone should HAVE a healthy family. My situation SHOULD be the exception. I have to stop turning my envy into judgement.)
I can see the core of this inability to recognize my "traumitized child" status. No-one else did. At least my dad didn't (naturally- he caused the most damaging trauma!) When the term "dysfunctional family" came out I was so pleased! "Thats us daddy- see, I am right, I am not getting what I need! Now that we have a name for it we can fix it! Daddy? Daddy can you hear me? Please wake up! Dad, please wake up and come inside so we can lock the door, I am scared" He would guilt me for saying we were a dysfunctional family. We were "non-traditional." I was getting what I needed: "love."
He often would tell me that he loved me, that I was a "good kid" and that he was proud of me. I know these things helped me, I am glad I had that much, but I needed more. His refusal to admit that I wasn't doing well, and my family not removing me from his care sent me the message that my environment was acceptable. This meant my feelings of severe anxiety and instability were character flaws, not a result of an anxious and instable environment.
I think I need to keep reminding myself about the impact of abuse/neglect/parental drug abuse on kids. It really brings me back to reality. I am setting myself up for failure to compare my accomplishments to other people's, because the starting line was different. I have lived in a fantasy where I have convinced myself (I don't know if other people are convinced) that I am from a normal, middle-class background. I think it's more pleasant to imagine that when you are terrified of the future. Perhaps now that I have developed a bit of stability and security, I am ready to remember things. To remember my real adolecence, not the one I tried to invent by joining cheerleading and danceline.
No, the world does not need to know that I was traumitized during my brain development, but I need to.