How I learned to Self Abuse by Pam Witzemann

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Please help me welcome guest blogger Pam Witzemann as she shares about Self Abuse and how she realized that it was in fact, learned behavior. Pam is a frequent guest blogger here at Emerging from Broken and contributes her voice to the comments in almost every post here on Emerging from Broken. Darlene Ouimet

 

Self harmHow I learned to Self Abuse by Pam Witzemann

 

I was a self-abusive person. I wasn’t born as a self-abuser. I was taught to abuse myself by the way I was devalued as a child and the behavior that was modeled for me.

 

As a child, I was medically, emotionally, and spiritually neglected. I was psychologically and emotionally abused. I was given alcohol as medicine on a regular basis from the age of six months and also allowed sips of beer and other adult drinks. On holidays, I was allowed to drink hard eggnog and wine. As a toddler, I was allowed to eat only candy and drink coffee with the adults. I use the term toddler as an age descriptive term but I was never actually a toddler. I was what is now called a schoocher. Because I was born premature, my brain didn’t know where my arms were and I used my legs instead. I sat on my bottom and scooted. I tried to walk at about one year but fell like an egg, unable to catch myself, and didn’t begin walking until I was three. I never had any medical help with this disability. I don’t know if there was any help available but I do know that my parents never investigated any further than the family doctor. My mother worked with me and taught me to pull myself up on a broom handle. I was very uncoordinated and my childhood drawings were of heads with arms and legs coming directly out of the head in various places. I had poor control over my body and I never could physically keep up with other children my age. I felt that I was very different from others and I was never free from a pervading loneliness.

 

At four years old, I became sick with a high fever. I developed a rash and my parents decided that I had the measles. They put me in a darkened room and gave me the usual hot toddies, a mixture of bourbon, honey, and lemon juice. My grandmother came to visit and was alarmed at my condition. She told my parents that she thought I had Scarlet Fever and she insisted they take me to the emergency room. My grandmother was right and I spent the next year taking Penicillin. I learned how to read that year as I spent so much time alone in bed. My great aunt and my grandmother were both teachers and they gave me books on phonics and primary readers. I taught myself how to read. I also had to learn how to walk all over again. I couldn’t start school until I was seven but people thought I was about four. I don’t know how tall I was but I do know that I weighed 20 pounds. I didn’t know how to relate to other children as I had been around very few children. Because I was so small, the bigger girls played with me as if I were a doll. I was miserable and I always felt that I was alone. I was sick often. Partly because my immunity was low,it was an escape from the children at school, and  it was the only sure way I could get any attention from my mother. My parents continued to give me hot toddies when I was sick and I developed a taste for bourbon. I wanted those hot toddies and I don’t remember not knowing the taste of alcohol. In my house, booze was god and I took part in the regular sacraments when offered or when no one was looking.

 

I don’t remember being held by my mother. I remember being held by my dad when he came home after a long drunk. Most of the time he was gone working or drinking. My mom began drinking when I was about six, in what I now believe was an effort to keep him at home. My dad was a dramatic drunk who frightened me and I was terrified when I saw my mom also, begin to drink. I hid in my room or in the closet when they were drunk and arguing. The most predominant memory I have of my parents is of them sitting at the dining room table drinking. If it moved from the table it would spin out of control and those were the times that I and my siblings were terrorized by my dad’s out of control, violent behavior. To me it seems that my entire childhood revolved around that table where they sat and drank every day. I dreaded being called to that table for a drunken lecture; but if they directed anger toward my siblings, I would willingly insert myself and take their place at that table. At twelve, those lectures were an every Friday night event. This is how my parents spent time with me. My first memory of contemplating self-abuse was also, at twelve. I hid in the closet during one of m dad’s out of control terror sessions, with a hack saw in my hand, sliding it back and forth across my skin as I thought about cutting my wrists. My deep feelings of loneliness overwhelmed me and became an almost constant state of mind that year. It seemed that if I no longer existed that it wouldn’t matter to anyone and I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore. By the age of twelve, death seemed to hold more promise for me than life. I was sure that I wouldn’t live past the age of 15.

 

My dad treated my mother as a possession. He called her his “mommy doll”. This was supposed to be a term of endearment but he truly, treated her as a toy. He was 28 and she was 18 when they married. When my mom became pregnant with me they moved onto the ranch owned by my father’s parents. My dad took my mom’s driver’s license and when her glasses broke, she didn’t get new ones. The ranch was fifty miles from the nearest town and our closet neighbor was three miles away. We had five neighbors. My mom was not only my dad’s toy but a prisoner. She never had a friend of her own but was expected to cater to the people my dad wanted admiration from. These relationships never lasted long and ended when my dad’s true self would become known and he was confronted with his own failings. My mom never fought for herself but always submitted to my dad’s ill treatment of her. He demeaned her looks and made fun of her intelligence. The more he mistreated her, the worse she became, and he would denigrate her even further. He included my siblings and I in that denigration of our own mother. When we displeased him, we were told that we were just like our mother. My mother’s development froze at 18 and she never grew up. To this day, she willingly submits to my father’s mistreatment. She is content to do his bidding and never having to take responsibility for anything. She never fought for her children either even though she could see that we were being destroyed from the inside out just as he destroyed her.

 

My dad is a huge liar. He lives in a world created by his lies and no longer knows what it true about his life. My mother goes along with him and supports the lies. I grew up inside that world formed by my father’s lies. I believed those lies as a child and accepted many of them into adulthood because they were so seemingly, inconsequential. I know now that even small details of my father’s life are fabrications. Lies told at one time to impress someone and then made permanent in an attempt to remember them and maintain a preferred false image of himself. Now I believe nothing except what I witnessed myself. As a liar, my dad was also a manipulator. He manipulates for attention and he will do anything to anyone to get attention. He loved to manipulate me and I think he practiced his technique on me while also getting an emotional fix from being able to control me. He teased me mercilessly and when I would cry, he would chastise me for not being able to take teasing. He loved to hold me and prevent me from moving. Sometimes, I thought he would crush the air out of me. When I got older, he manipulated me by pretending to be my friend and side with me against my mom. He would purposely get between me and my mom to try and get all the attention and admiration for himself. He let me start smoking at fourteen so that I wouldn’t burn his barn down and so I would think he was cool. When I got caught smoking pot at the same age, I was given beer to drink and cigarettes to eat, and then told that if I wanted to get loaded, I could drink at home. If I ever brought up any of his short-comings, he would turn them around and blame them on me. My mother also blamed me for everything that went wrong in our family. She resented me most when I began to want to make decisions about how to dress and I wanted to be with my friends instead of her. In her mind, she expected me to become the girl friend that my dad never allowed her to have and she was angry with me for failing her. They also taught my sister and brother to see me as the problem source when my parents drank too much and did something they were ashamed of. I was the one who caused them to drink because I was so hard to deal with. I was marked and isolated within my own family. I was told I couldn’t sing (a lie) when the rest of the family was musical. My father was a musician and since he saw all of us as part of himself, a child with no musical ability was of no good use. At sixteen, when a pedophile (I didn’t know what a pedophile was) enticed me to leave home and I saw it as an exit from the misery I lived in, they let me go. I wasn’t allowed to drive because my dad said I was too immature and would wreck his car. However, when it came to going to live with a 28 year old man in the porn industry, who was divorced with a child, that I barely knew, and they didn’t know at all, they stepped aside and allowed me to make that decision. They turned me loose in much the same way as people in the Old Testament of the Bible sent their scape-goat out into the wilderness after they placed all of their sins upon it. In me my parents saw everything they hated about themselves, each other, and the misery of daily life in our family. They left me on my own to get what they deemed I deserved or more aptly put, to take in their place, what they deserved. This was my value to them, that I be held responsible and sent away so they never had to face or take responsibility for their own behavior.

 

I first started using drugs at twelve when I began stealing my mother’s allergy medicine to sleep. I was depressed and anxious most of the time. My family teased me for moping and pouting and I was called a scrooge because the holidays sent me into depression as they were days for my dad to drink to excess and spoil whatever childish expectation I had for culturally important days. I was afraid of holidays. No one ever tried to find out what was wrong. I was different and I was alone. It was my fault that I felt so sad, scared, and isolated. Soon after I stole those first pills from my mom, I began swiping pills from my grandparents. When school started, I found kids who were using pot and by fifteen, I was smoking pot nearly every day. I seldom went to class and my parents were angry that I was bringing home F’s but they never delved into the problem or made an effort to find out what was wrong or help me. My drug use took over my life and I put myself in risky situations to obtain more and stronger drugs. I endured sexual abuse as a teenager because they kept me high and when they were done with me, I became the worst abuser of me. I became like my aggressors but instead of abusing others, I also targeted myself for abuse. I blamed everything on myself and I punished my body with needles, pills, and whatever I could get my hands on to feed my head as I continued where the sexual abuse ended in promiscuous and dangerous relationships. I often combined drugs with opposing affects such as Heroin and Cocaine, called speed balling. I was a joy-popper and would inject anything into my veins. My life became a death dance by the age of eighteen and eventually, I committed the ultimate abuse. I intentionally overdosed on a mixture of Morphine, Heroin, and sedatives. I murdered me. A friend found me out cold, not breathing, naked, and wrapped in a sheet. She called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital where they used paddles and brought me back to life. When I came to I cried because I was still alive. I saw no solution to the problem, which I viewed as myself, but death.

 

Just as my decent into self-abuse was incremental and slow, my climb upward was long and arduous. It began with my belief in Jesus and my receiving the gift of eternal life. I wasn’t instantly changed into a person with no problems with a healthy psychology but I no longer celebrated death. Instead, I began to celebrate life. It was as if a light bulb switched on and I became aware of the life and beauty around me and I wanted to be a part of it. I began to try and make changes in the way I lived my life and I conquered my drug abuse over twenty years ago. Confronting the abuse in my past began with stopping the behavior that threatened my life. The journey continues today as I continue to learn how to value myself and others by placing blame where it belongs and ceasing to abuse myself in my thinking. I am learning why I developed certain patterns of behavior rather than believing that I am somehow, corrupt.

 

There have been many people who have helped along the way and I believe that God has placed each one in my path at just the time I needed them. My husband is the person who has given me the most help toward healing by simply loving me and showing me what unconditional love is. There have also been friends, pastors, doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. My children have taught me more about myself than anyone. None of it would have mattered though if I had never believed and had my idea of a solution changed from death to life. I needed a healthy spiritual outlook to strengthen me in overcoming the negative psychology that I was programmed with from birth. Emerging from Broken is also important to me as I continue to confront myself and my past as I continue to reprogram and search for greater healing. I believe God also directed me here at the moment I needed it most as through what Darlene writes and what commenters share, I’ve found that I’m not alone and there are many on this same journey with me.

Pam Witzemann

Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is now 54 years old. She has been married for 33 years, raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for about twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years. Pam authors the blog Boomer Back Beat; a place where baby boomers find inspiration in the process of aging.

66 response to "How I learned to Self Abuse by Pam Witzemann"

  1. By: Pam Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Joy, It’s always good to look for the positive. It helps us endure the rest. People who hate, hate themselves and view all others through that self-hate, I think. It seldom has anything to do with their target for hatred. Me, I just hate haters.lol! Really, I don’t hate anyone. I hate a lot of things that people do but not the people themselves, no matter how angry I may be with them.

  2. By: joy Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Pam

    I have been trying to avoice if for a week but I don’t take rest as I need to..Need to practice some of the things T is teaching me like self-care which is so so opposite of all drilled in my head.. wish i could just empty it all at once..get a vacuum cleaner and pull it allout .. the bad stuff..

    I must say despite the nastiness of the phone call this morning.. I am grateful a little as I overslept and would have been very late.. if i hadn’t gotten my wake up call..Even bad stuff has a little good in it..

    And her hatefulness is not so bad as i am so used to being hated it doesnt hurt as bad ..

    joy

  3. By: Pam Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Joy, me too. I’m glad you’re feeling better. That cold seems to be making the rounds…

  4. By: joy Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Pam

    I am doing better as the afternoon warms things up… i don’t see reconcilation coming in this life so am going to try to move on with mine best I can..

    Love

    joy

  5. By: Pam Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Joy, I will pray for you. It isn’t your fault that your mom did that. She is responsible. I know that I could never figure out my parents or understand why they do what they do and I’m not capable or responsible for changing them. I am responsible for me and for taking care of and protecting me. I love my family through prayer and ask God to change their hearts, knowing that God is a gentleman and won’t force that change upon them either but patiently wait for them to come to the right decision. That’s what I’m doing also, from a distance that is safe and healthy for me. It isn’t anything wrong in you that makes your mom say such things. It is her problem to deal with and answer for. It makes me feel sad that you were hurt again.

    Take good care of yourself and get well.

    Love,
    Pam

  6. By: joy Posted: 23rd September 2011

    i really feel ..for my abuser..mom.. that if i would die it would help her move on. .i am a reminder .. I cannot talk her into sense.. it hurts me that there is nothing I can do to make her see the past is past.. I cannot do anything as she will not see .. as long as “I am ” she sees her mistake which she says is my mistake..it’s such a mess but i know there is nothing I can do that will be good enough or be appreciated or applauded by her . .I have to let go and letting go . .of hoping she will change is so against me as a person its hard . as i have so often believed one can always hope.. . miracles don’t always happen..its hard to accept this! .. but i need to please. pray for me.
    joy

  7. By: joy Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Hi pam

    I woke late after having been awake earlier at 3.. have been fighting ab bug and so am not myself.. this morning i got a wake up call. I am grateful in one way for the call but upset with myself for not allowing it to go to voicemail

    I did *69 to see the number from which the caller ( mom ) had used but it was block .

    The whole call lasted maybe 20 seconds.. I was not myself i have a fever and so i just picked it up thinking maybe my boss is wondering. am late starting work. so i just picked up .. said ” hello” and my lovely mom said ” I wish you would disappear from the face of the earth” and hung up.

    I sat there with my phone in my hand and asking myself why did i pick up the phone. but then i said must i live my life afraid all my life that if i pick up the phone I am going to be abused..

    If I pick up the phoone I may get an earful.

    I cannot change my phone number as it would take one weeks time .it would throw me out of my bundled package and leave me paying too much money .

    I am thinknig there must be another way.but after so much time. .why in the world would any mother wish such bad things on her daughter.. why can she not stop the nonsense.. would she really feel good .. complete..happy if I followed through?

    I would never do such a thing. as am very much Pro-life.. but it hurts me to the core..when I am sick and not feeling well to get wakened to such a message.

    She didnt say anythign beyond that..hung up ..herself.. I cannot block her number as she blocked it somehow ..

    joy

  8. By: Pam Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Robin, That’s incredible. I know that when I allowed my parents to move onto my property, my whole life went downhill and when they left, everything improved, including my health. I have been wondering a lot about that lately and trying to answer why. I wasn’t the only one affected by it but my husband and children too. I can’t really explain all of it. It seems that there was a maleviolent presense that came and went with them. Emotions are powerful and negative ones have the power to destroy.

  9. By: Robin Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Wow…sometimes life has the strangest timing. Yesterday I got a message from my mom whom I haven’t seen or spoken to since May. She said that she was filing for bankruptcy and wanted to take my name off of her bank account and to take her name off of mine. Her reasons were that she didn’t want me to be affected (lie) and she didn’t want them to think that she had more money than she really did (sounds more like the truth).

    I immediately began to get a pounding headache just as Patricia described in dealing with her dad. Right away I took out a piece of paper and began to dissect what I was feeling and why. Finally I said to myself, “I have done nothing wrong,” and felt the tension ease a little. Eventually I also told myself, “And there’s nothing that you need to do to fix anything,” and I felt the headache go away.

    Throughout the day, anytime I felt that panic come back and the headache and body ache return I would say these things to myself and I felt better. I really believe that subconsciously I was falling back into that old pattern of pleasing my abuser and sacrificing myself for her good. As I wrote down my feelings and talked to myself I realized that I did feel responsible for her and her problem. I felt like it was my fault that she was in trouble, even though it had nothing to do with me.

    I really, really believe that a lot of the sickness and pain I have felt was because of a deep down sense of guilt and failure.

  10. By: joy Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Hi Pam:

    I sure shed lots of tears.. making up or lost time I suppose..before I wasn’t allowed to cry ; but now that I am allowed they fall and fall ( the tears ) .

    Thank you for all your encouragement. 🙂

    Love

    Joy

  11. By: Pam Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Joy, You’re right about the pain necessary to heal. The analogy of salt in a wound fits that pain nicely. There is nothing that prevents infection from setting up in a would like rubbing salt in it and there is also nothing that hurts more. Tears are salty and good for keeping infection out of emotional wounds. Tears clean our wounds and laughter heals them. I like it when I get past the cleansing part and into the healing part. Someday, your tears will be turned to laughter. You are on your way to healing.

    Yeah, I turned out okay but I haven’t fully arrived. I guess I’ll be working on that and growing until the day I die. It is very hard for me to distinquish healing and growing from each other. I believe that you also are healing and growing.I’m glad I haven’t hurt you more.

    Love,
    Pam

  12. By: joy Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Dear Pam..

    Thank you for your kind words and I never thought in any way that you were trying to hurt me.. Many times I realize people say things only because they don’t understand .. and I was hesitant to tell since I am waiting to open that to my T but the subject was opened.. on self harm. and I know how much I have harmed myself in so many ways.. I was brainwashed to believe hurting myself was holy.. just as when I was a little child I was told suffering the abuses was holy.bringing me closer to god. ONe has only to read some catholic books about nuns or men who were saints and you will see how they held up suffering.. how suffering is glorified .. how its the quickest path to God’s heart and since I was taught obedience means never questioning. I accepted all the commentaries as gospel truth. .I was being formed into a little ‘nothing’ of a person.. brainwashed to believe that the more i suffered . the more pain i endured the closer I was to god.. I was taught that one should never speak of oneself in a positive way but humbly as though i was nothing.. I was to consider myelf the”scum of the earth” and that wasn’t too hard to do . since mom told me this all my life. .It is not just a few years that i believed this but every year up to the point of meeting my dear therapist who i am so grateful to.. I really have a great undoing to do but am glad its not by myself i have to do it.. i need someone with healthy vision to help me see what I am blinded to.. Thank god for my t..i love her dearly.. but can’t really say that but i do appreciate her so immensely

    I love you too Pam for always reaching out and understanding me. .IF I have not responded quickly its only because i dont know how .. i cry alot as everything hits home so very much right now. everything is falling on me all at once. .I want to run and hide but theres no where to go but to look at it and do the best I can with it.

    I know we share many similarities and seeing that you have come out fine gives me hope someday too I will be .everyone here is a blessing to me. Darlene is an angel .. i love her too.
    I guess i love everyone .. almost 😉

    well thank you . for helping me feel valued. .as its not easy to . when all this stuff is tangled up inside me.

    Joy

    ps.. know that nothing you have said is hurting me. and if it hurts. remember sometimes to be healed we have to hurt first.. like when the doctor gives us a needle to cure our colds.

  13. By: Pam Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Joy, I just want to also, say thankyou for sharing that. It helps me understand why we get a little crossed up, sometimes. What is comfort and strength to me has been taught to you as degredation and pain. I love the psalms and it hurts to understand how all of that has been mistranslated into your life. Please, forgive me for the times that I was insensitive because of my ignorance. I didn’t know how I was hurting you when all I was doing was offering you that which comforts and strengthens me. Please, know my heart toward you is good and disreguard my words, as much as possible, when they sound otherwise to you.

    Love,
    Pam

  14. By: Pam Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Joy, Even though we have different stories, what we do have in common is being made a scape-goat, a sin-eater for our family of origen. That is unhealthy for them as well as for ourselves, on so many levels. Just as your self abuse began with the way your family taught you to see yourself and your purpose, so did mine. I quit acting out myself abuse in physical ways decades ago but I didn’t stop my self-abuse until I also stopped the self-abusive thinking. It is no fun being a martyr. Jesus did that for me once and for all.

    A counselor taught me a healty way to keep my needs and the needs of others balanced. My needs are just as important as anyone elses, and the needs of others are as important as mine. I don’t serve others, I serve God and others are served when I do so. This has helped me a lot in deciding what I am required to give to another and also, what is permisible for me to expect from another.

    I know you aren’t a mistake. No one is, we all have a special purpose in this world and we are made most happy when we find that purpose.

    It makes me sad that you were treated in such a way as to leave you in so much pain. I know you can make it out of that world view that was imposed upon you and find the truth. If I can, you can. I saw the world upside down for a very long time but when I began embracing the truth about my life and the things that happened to me, it suddenly turned right side up. That sounds easy and I say sudden but the journey to that sudden moment was a life-long journey.Everything comes to each of us in its own time.

    Love,
    Pam

  15. By: joy Posted: 22nd September 2011

    The sad part, Pam, is because of all my brokenness from my childhood..all that made so much sense.. I went to study to complete my mom’s wishes for me.. her selfish wish that I would go and take that secrets that happen to me and make up for them .. for her and me and the whole family. I was to be the sarificial lamb. .suffer for all the sins ” i caused” .. I failed in that.. as my health could not hold up the a convent life and I carried too much brokenness.. I stayed long enough, though, to deepen the sense of unworthiness my childhood had initiated and it continued to dig deep into my soul.. THis is why its hard for me to think of myself first, to accept kindnesses..as it was drilled into me that i was unworthy .that my life was to make up for being born.. mom’s mistake ….SO many many groups in the catholic faith believe in this type of penance..It’s not in the open..I know people in the medical world would call what we did self harm. and I continued to do it up to a few years ago.. I found it one way to satisfy my need to make up for the wrong i committed by being born.. so I thought. i did the wrong.. I don’t know how I could have not been born..but i felt bad for mom that she hated me for being born.. I wish i could have undone it . .but it was irreversible.. I don’t accept anymore that I was a mistake. Someone far beyond all our reasonings wanted me to be born or I wouldn’t be here..

    joy

  16. By: Pam Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Patricia, My health was at its worst during the time that I allowed my parents to move onto my property. I don’t think I punish myself but I do feel emotional pain physically and I agree that the stress makes me more suseptible to developing sickness. I look back on that and realize how foolish I was. I thought I had to “do the right thing” and honor my parents. I learned that parents being honored begins with parents honoring their children and when that doesn’t happen, there can be no honorable parent/child relationship. It is interesting how my life has improved on all levels since they have moved and not just for me but for my husband and children, as well. People who live off of others, both physically and emotionally, eventually suck their victim dry. That’s the condition both I and my husband were in after 11 years of being mooched upon. I’m glad that portion of my life is over and it is so good to be healthy.

  17. By: Pam Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Joy, I’m speechless. That is just horrible. That kind of religion is deadly. I know about those kinds of practices amoung some Catholic groups but I’ve never had anyone tell me what it was like to live it. It makes me very sad that that was done to you in the name of God, Joy. The picture you paint is of a very cruel religion and very different from “visiting widows and orphans in their affliction and keeping one’s self unspotted by the world”. I’m sad that you had to suffer that way. I’m glad you aren’t doing it anymore. People who say they love God and then cause others to hurt themselves the way they did you are just liars, in my book.

  18. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Robin, when I was in my 30’s and 40’s I would get migraines every time that my dad came back into my life. I was tested by a neuralogist during that time and he could not find any physical reasons for my migraines. I believe that my migraines are purely stress related. As a child being abused sexually and emotionally abused by an active alcoholic, my life was filled with stress to the point that at 19 I made the choice to run away from home. I knew that if I didn’t leave then, I would have had a nervous breakdown. The migraines stopped for the 10 years that my dad was totally out of my life. I wasn’t punishing myself with the migraines. I never learned to deal with stress in a healthy manner so it would build into a migraine. The anger that I held in until it became rage affected my body also. I believe that the high blood pressure that I have today is a result of that stress showing up in my body. I have had headaches other than migraines since I was at least 7 years old, maybe earlier.

  19. By: joy Posted: 21st September 2011

    Taught to self harm

    the blood it trickled down my skin
    and opened up my heart within
    lash after lash the wounds would appear
    all sanctioned by the church I fear

    around my waist the metal i wore
    stung the flesh it crushed and tore
    twice a week for several years
    I inflicted hurt that brough me tears

    I learned to cut out evil ways
    and offer repentance as my praise
    whenever i felt I was doing wrong
    i would create a wound deep and long

    ALl this done in the name of prayer
    Hurting myself without much care
    This was a ritual taught to me
    In the name of religion I hurt me..

    joy

  20. By: joy Posted: 21st September 2011

    Pam

    I havent even gone into details of this yet to my T but plan to next session. .I was going to wait to respond till I spoke with T but I feel it’s ok to share this. I don’t knock what is done but all of it gave me a deeper disdain of my self.. made me feel if I am not humble and don’t put others first i must punish myself. for pride.

    joy

  21. By: joy Posted: 21st September 2011

    Pam

    What i will say here is the first time I am letting this out ..but .. I learned to “self harm” from the church ..iT was ok .it was taught.. I was going to be a nun ..so spent much time with them. and one time in confession..the priest gave a penance that would be practiced many years..”Take the discipline.” for the space of the 3 psalms.

    That space of psalms i think was psalm 150, 32, and another whose number i forget “have mercy on me God in your greatness, in your compassion blot out my guilt..thoroughtly was me of my guilt and of my sin cleanse me”

    I know the psalms by heart the above was part of 150. We wer taught to beat ourselves with the discipline as an act of penance.. to make up for our wrongs and those of others..

    By time those prayers were done. blood was flowing and if that were not enough.. we were given another thing called a “cilicio” .. which was a belt that appeared to be of chaing..it had points that you were suppose make sure were pointed toward your skin.. you wore this to keep you remembering the awfulness of the sins of the flesh.. ..

    SO I can say .. I learned to self harm by my dearly beloved church that looked the other way when I cried about the hurt mom an bro and others did to me.

    Now I was told that it was ok .. this was holy to cut yourself..to bleed .. it was ok .. to let blood flow when you do wrong..

    I sometimes took the discipline so very hard .. i did it to try to undo all the unworhtiness my mom said I had.. No matter how much I took the discipline.. I never felt more holy. I developed a weakness of health..

    Yet..that didnt matter..pain was something that was encouraged and complaining was not permitted.. if it were not for illness I would be there in a sad life beating myself for everyone’s sins.. what a sad life it would have been.. to think that God found pleasure in pain.

    When I left the studies I took with me the instrumetns of torture and sometimes continue the punishment.. thinking if i prayed hard enough..took the discipline I woudl become worthy ..of love from my family.

    My mother had wanted me to become a nun..so that I would lock away the terrible bad secrets.. what a disappointment I was ..

    So i learned self-harm. from the good nuns and the priest who constantly told me to impose the penance on myself..

    If you don’t know what a discipline is ..it’s a whipe with about 9 -12 braided cords dipped in wax and allowed to harden..So every strand had a waxed bulb at the end .You took the discipline by swinging it side to side across your waist.. ..men took it on the shoulders i understand..

    Have I done harm to myself after leaving there ..I had.. I even created new disciplines.. when i wore my other out.. .. Do i do this now.. nope .but i think what was drilled into me by all this still needs to be undone . I have a very low image of myself.. .. this is why . i dont think highly of myself.. because it was seen as pride for which we would also take the discipline or cilicio

    Joy

  22. By: Pam Posted: 21st September 2011

    Hi Robin, I think I’ve always felt emotional pain physically. Also, I’ve had fibromyalgia and fatigue most of my life. I also had hep c for 33 years and that is a physical explanation of my symptoms that are much better since I no longer have that disease. I’ve also reconciled with my past during the last five years, in the same time frame as when I was cured of the virus. I feel better now than I have for most of my life.

    I used to think that if someone I loved did something wrong that I had caused it somehow. I do think that, depending on how bad it was, I felt it physically. I also used to spend a lot of time beating my self up in my thinking. Being beat always hurts.

    I think self-abuse starts in the way one thinks and the actions come later. I was able to stop the self-abusive actions long ago but it is only recently that I’ve stoped beating myself from the inside.

    Wonderful comment, Robin.

  23. By: Robin Posted: 21st September 2011

    I’ve been thinking about this subject of self-hurt alot lately. I’ve not hurt myself on the outside, but I believe that I hurt myself on the inside. I find tha,t on this healing journey, when I realize that someone that I thought loved really doesn’t, I tend to wake up with headaches or body aches or just feel exhausted. When I began to see this pattern, I thought back to an article I read that said two common illnesses among abuse victims are fibromyalgia (body aches and flu-like symptoms) and chronic fatigue syndrome (self-explanatory).

    This all makes me wonder if these illnesses are not a way in which we subconsciously hurt ourselves for things we feel we’ve done wrong. Afterall, we’re taught by our abusers that everything is our fault. I know that it makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong when I expose someone as being abusive to me, even if only to myself. I feel like I’ve betrayed them because I’ve been programed to protect others and their image and character at my own expense. And even though these people have hurt me, sometimes I don’t really want to believe that they are bad, especially my religious leaders.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

  24. By: Pam Posted: 19th September 2011

    Pat, I think that is what I want to write about next(if there is a next:0) is emotional neglect and that black hole of lonliness that it leaves. I never understood it and it started filling in when I became spiritual but the filling was a process for me and I can’t pinpoint when it was completed. I think it has been a number of things, God, my husband’s love, my children’s love, and finally, my self love. Parents instill so much into their children those first few years of life and for me, that was pretty much a void. God has been good to fill in all that I needed to become a whole person. There have been many plateaus on this journey, and many times when I thought I’d ‘arrived’, but then found another layer to deal with and mend. I am on one of those plateaus right now but I know there is still some work left to do. It is hard to distinquish the healing from the growing and I actually, believe they are one and the same. We victims of abuse really aren’t that different from anyone else but maybe, just a little more aware of the process of wounding and healing that is life.

    I always enjoy your comments, Patricia.Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.

    Pam

  25. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 19th September 2011

    Pam, thank you so much for sharing your story of abuse and healing. I know that lonliness that you mentioned. I felt it for so many years before I finally started to love myself. Yes, my parents abandoned me as yours did – emotionally, physically and spiritually. Because of the incest, I also abandoned myself. I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love either. He never left me but I turned my back on him for many years. I thought that if God loved me that he would have stopped the incest from happening and since he didn’t stop the abuse and didn’t love me that I didn’t need him either. I know today that he was simply waiting for me to turn around. He loved me always no matter what I said or did. That lonliness left me when I accepted God back into my life and learned to love myself.

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