I was labelled as a story teller from a very young age. I remember my parents saying that I talked to hear myself talk. Although I don’t remember exactly what I used to do, apparently I was a little bit dramatic and I pretended that I needed help a lot and I was told that I would scream “help” for no reason. I remember when I was a little bit older in childhood years that I believed I was a liar and made things up, probably because I had been told that I was.
To put this in another way, I learned to question my memories ~ I learned to doubt myself. I learned to believe that I exaggerated and was a story teller. And I also remember embellishing the truth, nothing serious or life threatening, just kid stuff, but I think I did it for attention. I was so starved for attention and I think I did it because no one ever HEARD me. So mix a little truth in with a little false, and add the mind of an abused child to the recipe, and you have some understandable results.
I do remember being told the story of the little boy who cried wolf especially after this one event when I got in a lot of trouble but I really did need help that time.
I was about eight years old and my cousin was being baptised and we were all gathered at my grandparents for a big family after party. My grandmother smoked cigarettes and she had a lit cigarette in her hand and the kitchen was really crowded. I was small, and I looking up and I remember seeing her cigarette as she held it above her head and navigated her way through the crowd, BUT she bumped into my grandfather; her cigarette hit him in the forehead, and as I was looking up at both of them, the burning embers fell into my eyes and onto my eyebrows and face. I screamed. I was no longer able to see, but I remember my father grabbing me by the arm and very sternly saying “that’s it”. I was about to get spanked for screaming, but someone explained to him what happened, or he saw my face and eyes, I am not sure about that part, but I didn’t get spanked. He had to go to the pharmacy to get something for my eyes. And that is when I got the lecture. I remember being told that this was a prime example of why I should not scream for help when I didn’t need help because my father admitted that he was going to spank me for screaming for what he assumed was for “no reason”.
All my life I remembered having the embers falling in my eyes as a shameful event. It was the time when something bad happened to me, but because I was so naughty and always screamed for help when i didn’t need help, that this bad thing, which was an accident, became a reaffirmation that I was a bad girl who screamed for attention (help) when I didn’t need it.
It was very hard for me to sort these particular things out, because there were a few other significant memories that added to the cigarette accident, and intertwined with it forming an even more solid belief system about myself. This is about how the foundation formed and about how I regarded myself ~ how I was able to end up blaming myself for the sexual abuse, neglect, physical abuse and the resulting depressions, failures, and so many other things.
I will guess that I was between 7 and 9 years old when I did this horrible thing. I faked a nightmare. I had SO much trouble sleeping as a child, it seemed like I laid awake in bed for hours every night and in the daytime I tried so hard to get my father’s attention and I must have gotten some attention at one time from having nightmares (I do recall that I had a lot of real ones) so I screamed and cried and my father came in and he held me. Instead of that being a wonderful memory however, it was something I remembered for the rest of my life. It was an embarrassing memory filled with guilt and shame because I pretended to have a nightmare for attention ~ proving to myself that I was a liar and a faker. It was just one of the “things I did” that proved in my mind that it really was me that was the problem, that I brought it all on myself.
That time I lied, I was attention seeking, I was making something up, I was exaggerating, I was a bad girl and it was no wonder that my parents didn’t love me, didn’t want to listen to me, didn’t want to protect me from monsters that they told me only existed in my head. When I told the truth, I was ignored; I was told that I must be wrong, so I linked those admonishments to the times where I had been lying.
So let’s do a quick recap; (click on the sentence to see the related blog post)
~My first memory of sexual abuse was at the age of a little over two. I don’t know if I told or not, but I was left to deal with it.
~We have a story about how my mother dressed me up in a black lace teddy at the age of 6 and sending me out to dance in front of my father’s business associate, which I relate to being the beginning of learning that my value was sexual.
~We have the story of me telling my parents that I was being emotionally abused by a teacher and they didn’t believe me.
~In the present post we have a story of my being under a little shower of burning embers and getting heck for it, because it was a great way to “teach me” that I should not tell stories.
~ In the present post we have the story of an actual lie that I did tell. Yes there were others.
~ Then when I was 14, when my mother said it was in fact my fault that I got sexually assaulted in the night by her boyfriend… I accepted that.
If you keep in mind that as children we can’t blame our parents, because we believe they have the power to allow us to live or die, which means that our only choice is to change and be good enough to be loved ~ then do you see how these combined events worked together to help form my false belief system? Can you see how they led me to believe and accept false things about why I was not protected from emotional harm, and from sexual abuse? Can you relate to how I was convinced that it was me? That I was bad? I was unworthy of love, protection, and even simple affection and comfort?
It was in breaking this all down that I was able to understand how I came to those conclusions about myself. It was in understanding how the false belief system formed, that I was able to take it apart, re-wire it and put it back together in truth.
Please share anything you want to share, or if this post triggers memories in any way you are welcome to share them here if you wish.
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