Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rudeness is a Neurotoxin....

There was a link to a very interesting article posted on the DoNM board a few weeks ago. It was taken from and is about the effects of abuse on brain development.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

A series of studies by a group of psychiatrists and brain imaging scientists lead by Martin Teicher, of Harvard Medical School, shows that even hostile words in the form of verbal abuse can cause these brain changes and enduring psychiatric risks for young adults. In a study published in 2006, the researchers showed that parental verbal abuse was more strongly associated with these detrimental effects on brain development than was parental physical abuse. In a new study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, they report that exposure to verbal abuse from peers is associated with elevated psychiatric symptoms and corpus callosum abnormalities. The main causes are stress hormones, changes in inhibitory neurotransmitters, and environmental experience affecting the formation of myelin electrical insulation on nerve fibers. The most sensitive period for verbal abuse from peers in impairing brain development was exposure during the middle school years. Why? Because this is the period of life when these connections are developing in the human brain, and wiring of the human brain is greatly influenced by environmental experience.

If you'd like to read the original article in it's entirety, it can be found here. To read the original research that the article is based on, go here.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

What if?

Saw a post on Fiona and Twig yesterday that really started me thinking. The post was about the quote, "What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?".

So much of my life has been dictated by fear. In fact, for a couple of years, I was pretty much entirely agoraphobic and rarely even left my house except when I absolutely had to. As a child, I remember always feeling small and afraid. I had a terrible time making friends and would often sit by myself at lunch and play outside at recess alone. Even as I got older, when I was in college, I'd often go into the bathroom, lock myself in a stall and eat my lunch alone.

Today, as a 34 year old adult, I have to push myself to do even the most mundane things. Going to the grocery store, walking around the mall, going out to a movie or dinner with my husband, these are all things I'm too anxious and afraid to do. And of course getting a job or going back to school are out of the question. The mere thought is enough to induce a panic attack.

It's hard for me to imagine a life without having to worry about failing. It's almost dangerous to contemplate, lest I get too caught up in the fantasy and get hurt falling back to earth when reality sets back in. At the same time, I am so tired of living in constant fear of failing.

Perhaps 2011 will be the year I finally confront some of that fear and step out on a limb. I'd very much like to start my own home-based decor business. I'm told my work is quite good and have been asked to do many custom pieces. Maybe this is the year I'll get one of my dreams off the ground.

What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some updates and an anniversary...

Well now, let's see...what's been going on with me?

Day before yesterday, I spent most of the day calling up various therapists to try and find one who:

a) does CBT or "cognitive behavioral therapy" to help me with my anxiety and panic disorder
b) I feel I "click with" and...
c) whose price per hour wouldn't add up to another house payment each month to see.

After a long day of interviewing various therapists, I think I've finally found one who fits the bill. I have to wait for my tax refund to come back before I go see him though so it won't be until the end of February until I actually go. Still, it feels good to know I've taken a step in the right direction.

As a way to try and speed up the "getting to know you" portion of the therapy process, I had decided I'd make up some background notes and mail them to the new T along with copies of the notes from my other two previous T's. I figured it would help him get to know me and help us figure out what we need to talk about that will help me heal while at the same time weeding out the unimportant stuff.

While I was doing this, I began to realize that some things weren't making sense. All my life my NM has told me that, very shortly before their wedding, she and my dad had "relations" and I was conceived at that time. But when I looked at the date on their marriage certificate thingy online and compared it with my birth date, either my mom was pregnant for 2 1/2 to 3 years or I was born a toddler. There were married in August of 1973 and I was born around the same time in 1976. See what I mean? It just doesn't make sense.

Since I can't call up my NM (and since I likely would only get more lies even if I could), I called up my dad and asked him. He said that's not true, that he and NM were married for like 2 to 3 years before I was born. I had also been told by my NM that she and my dad divorced when I was just 9 months old. Also untrue. They separated when I was 9 months old but weren't officially divorced until nearly a year later.

(For the record, though it has nothing to do with this story really, I also discovered that my NM married my stepjerk just THREE WEEKS after her divorce from my father and my NHS was born 9 months after that. Doesn't waste any time, does she?)


Today is January 9th. The day my NHS was born and also the one year anniversary of my decision to go NC with my NM. (NHS and NBIL I'd already gone NC with over a year before that.)

Oddly enough, though I was struggling earlier in the week, I woke up today just like any other morning. It wasn't until I was looking on the Humane Society website to see if there were any new dogs up for adoption that I realized what today's date was. At that point, I felt a bit of anxiety and nausea. However, that passed quickly and the rest of the day so far has been just another nice, relaxing day with my dh and ds.

When I spoke with my aunt N earlier, she mentioned that my NM was aware of the significance of today (besides it being her golden girl's birthday, that is). I was surprised at first that NM remembered but then I realized that of course she'd remember that it's been a full year as she would feel it would further her victim status to whine to all who will listen about how it's been an entire year since her ungrateful daughter spoke to her. Boo hoo! Oh, sob! Woe is her! What ever did she do to deserve such cruelty? (Where's an eye roll smiley when you need one?)

It will be interesting to see if NM is able to keep up her ignoring of me for another year. Thus far, she seems to have convinced herself that I'm just being "silly" again and that I'll eventually come to my senses and come crawling back, begging her forgiveness. But at some point it will have to sink in that I really mean it this time, that I won't be back. With luck, she'll continue as she has been and just go on pretending I no longer exist as the alternative would be for her to suddenly start harassing me and I don't want (or need) that.


With regard to the whole therapy thing, I had called up my MIL that same night to tell her about what I'd been doing and that I was hoping to get back into therapy, etc. She seemed fine at first and then, out of the blue, she suddenly says to me, "You keep saying 'I can't. I can't' but you haven't even tried." !!! Suffice it to say, I was PISSED. Actually, the truth is probably more that I was deeply hurt. Here is this woman who sees us nearly every day, she's seen me in the midst of a full on panic attack, she's seen how I struggle daily and how I suffer with this crippling anxiety and yet she has the gall to tell me I haven't even tried?! To be fair, it didn't seem as if MIL was trying to be cruel but it was still hurtful all the same.

My dh had gone out with his dad the following day - yesterday - and while they were out, apparently FIL brought up the therapy issue with dh and said that he hated to see me "waste dh'sdh who totally supports me and "gets" the whole anxiety/panic thing. He told his dad that he'd seen firsthand what I'd been through with my anxiety and how much I'd benefited from therapy thus far. He then added that there was absolutely NO shame in people needing a little help sometimes and that he knew me and if I said I needed help and couldn't do it on my own, than I needed help and couldn't do it on my own. What's more, I wasn't stupid and had encountered bad T's before and that if it occurred this time round, I'd just fire him and move on to the next like I had previously.

Dh said that FIL had protested a little at first but, by the end of the conversation, he seemed content to leave it alone and stay out of it.

I think what upset me the most was that the whole comment by MIL and then the stuff the following day by FIL had triggered a bunch of negative feelings caused by my N FOO in the past. It was just a complete invalidation of my feelings and experiences. I couldn't help but think how would MIL feel if she came to me and said, "I don't know what's wrong. I just can't seem to lose weight." and I said to her, "You know MIL, you keep saying, 'You can't. You can't.' but you haven't even tried."? She'd probably have been very offended and dh likely would have gotten a nasty call from FIL that evening, chastising him for how rude I'd been to say such a thing to MIL. Yet it's apparently okay for her to say such things to me?

I think that if MIL brings it up or makes a similar comment, I'm going to present her with the scenario I just gave above and ask her, "MIL, how would you feel if I said something like that to you, knowing how much you've suffered with your weight?" Hopefully, that will get it through her head and she'll think twice before making such comments again.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A post and my reaction...

Saw a post on the DoNM board today from a woman who just discovered her NM had died suddenly and unexpectedly. She expressed that she doesn't feel much in the way of sadness beyond what she might feel for a neighbor who had died. Several of the other DoNM's stated that they either felt only relief when their NM's died or that they thought that's all they would feel when the time came. I'm hesitant to post a response because apparently I'm the only one who feels differently.

Naturally when something like this is posted, it makes you start to think about your own situation. I thought about how I'd feel if I received a call today or tomorrow and found out that my NM had died and the honest answer is that I'd be devastated. Well, perhaps devastated is a bit too strong a word but I'd certainly be extremely upset and saddened. I guess I just feel like, while NM is still alive out there somewhere, there's still a tiny bit of hope that we could be in each other's lives again. Not that I expect NM will suddenly wake up and become the mother I've always wanted mind you, more that I feel it's possible I could reach a point in my healing where I could handle having NM in my life, albeit in a limited capacity, and still maintain a healthy emotional balance. While she's still around, that's a possibility but once she's gone, that's all over.

I don't know, maybe those other DoNM's are further along in the healing process than I am and no longer have any hope about their situation with their NM's. Maybe some of them are in denial about how they'd really feel. Whatever the case, I just know that I'd be really, really sad to hear my NM had died and I think a part of me would question my decision to go NC - Was I right? Was she really that toxic? Was NC a mistake? Was it worth it? These and other questions would plague me along with the devastating loss of that final grain of hope.

Of course I also can't help but feel less than my DoNM sisters who wouldn't be saddened by the loss of their NM's. I feel like I, too, should be relieved at the thought of my NM passing. And yet, a few days shy of the one year anniversary of my going NC, a large part of me misses her. What I probably miss most is the idea of a mother but there were also a few good times shared with her, like going antiquing, and my heart aches and years for more of those moments.

It all just seems such a waste. She's missing out on me and the goings on in my life. She's missing out on seeing her grandson grow up, on his experiences like his first day of preschool or even just seeing him smile. In an entire year's worth of time she has sent ds maybe 4 or 5 cards, some attached to inexpensive gifts and hasn't attempted to contact me at all aside from her one cryptic message of "NM's name says hello" sent through the receptionist at my chiropractor's office. This woman who always told me that all she wanted was to be a mother to two girls hasn't tried to contact me at all, even if only to be able to visit with her grandson and all because it's more important for her to be right than it is to have us in her life. How many more years is she willing to let pass? Two? Ten?? How many more memories and experiences is she willing to miss out on just to be right?

I just wish so much that there was a way to get through to her. I don't even need the ideal mother anymore. I'd happily settle for NM being begrudgingly nice and slightly sour tempered. So long as 50% of contact with her didn't result in hurtful criticism and abusive behavior, that would be enough for me. It seems so simple, so attainable and yet..........deep inside, there's a part of me that knows this will never happen. My mother is sick, damaged, broken and beyond repair and because of this, there is a deep sadness inside of me that I fear may never completely heal.