Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wait, which one of us is in charge?

    My little ones live in the attic of my mind, under the eaves in the shadows in the back of my head. Each one is contained within a bubble, oblivious to one another and to me. Some of them have bodies but others only heads. Some have words while others only have feelings. It’s dark in there and the only light is what comes in through the windows of my eyes. They are small, lonely and afraid.

    The one I am most familiar with is Gaye. She’s about 14 and she is my fighter, my NJ girl, the boss. She has been in the driver’s seat much of my life-I just didn’t know it. With her, it’s like I’m the co-pilot. I see what she does and I hear what she says and I know how she feels, but I can’t always do anything about it. She’s a scrapper and she can be scary-even to me. I went by the name Gaye until I was about 12 when I took back my legal name. Just because we share the same name doesn’t mean that she is anything like I was when I was young. I think she’s more like what I WISH I was. She will go toe to toe with the best of them and believe me, she has!
    It was Gaye who 'threw down' years ago with that old drunk when we were at Wal-Mart. That big, nasty, scary man shoved my 6 year old son. I was scared, but Gaye stepped right out, getting in his face. She wasn’t backing down either. Unfortunately, I was pregnant with our youngest daughter and could have gotten hurt if security hadn’t come along when they did. Gaye didn’t seem to notice me or the fact that I was very pregnant but even if she had, I don’t think she’d have stopped. She is my constant protector and I love her.

    Having an adolescent in charge when you’re an adult can be problematic, especially when it comes to marriage. My little ‘go-to-girl’ loves my husband in the same way any little girl loves her father. She doesn’t recognize him as my husband, she relates to him like he’s her Daddy. The good kind of Daddy; not the kind of Daddy that has sex with his daughter. Not the kind of Daddy I had.
    You can imagine how this complicates my marriage. Gaye is very strong willed and she gets so mad at my husband for wanting to be intimate with us. From her perspective, that makes sense. Of course she gets mad! Fourteen year old girls want their daddy’s to love and cherish them. They want to be nurtured and cared for. They don’t want to be thought of “in that way” by the man who’s job it is to protect her. Gaye believes that my husband is her Daddy and as long as sex isn’t a factor, she likes him. She loves him, but she puts up one heck of a fight whenever we think about anything sexual-especially where he is concerned. Within a nanosecond, I can go from thinking about the possibility of being intimate with my husband and starting to believe I can do it, to a raging teenager smashing the windows in my mind!
    Shutting down is what I have learned to do best to avoid the her wrath. Shutting down is how I avoid the mixed up emotions; the guilt, shame and sadness. Unfortunately, shutting down has caused the man I love more than life itself, so much pain. I can hardly bear to think about it.

    A couple of weeks ago, my therapist made this simple, factual statement: He said, “ You know you’re not a virgin.” Any rational person with any intellect whatsoever, would seed that point without question. The indisputable fact is that I have been married for 23 years and have 3 kids. Of course I’m not a virgin!
Let me tell you though, Gaye was pissed! She glared at him, clenched her teeth and didn’t hear much of what he had to say after that. Those words replayed in my head all week and I felt her raging and then sulking about it. Gaye ranted  about his observation; “What kind of sick thing is that to say to a child?!” “I am SO a VIRGIN!” “P-I-I-I-I-G!” She hated my therapist for a few days.
I felt really confused by it all. I felt sad. I vacillated between sad, angry and confused. I’m not sure which one of us was feeling what feelings, but it all left me kind of queasy and embarrassed...and guilty...
...Always so ashamed and guilty.


  1. I really appreciated this post and my comment just got swallowed but basically I recognise similar behaviours in myself. How I vascillate between a vulnerable and dependent person, and a totally independent person and must confuse the hell out of people I'm with these two. But since I've been healing my emotional pain has subsided, I've recognised I WAS her the child of my memories and DID suffer appallingly and also I've been able to admit the truth to myself of the nature of this suffering to some extent and these acceptances have eased my stress my asthma and my inner turmoil, even my ability to deal with triggers and my depression. I even started thinking about the future and what I might want instead of simply reacting to situations. Somehow recognising I was HER, has allowed bits of me to drop the coping behaviours, and come home so to speak. I'm much more balanced in my relationships as a result. But I spent a lot of time allowing my feelings no matter how much pain I had to and have to sit with, nor how disabling it is. By allowing my feelings I am valueing and allowing myself to be here.

  2. I can really relate to your struggle here. I have parts as well, and they very rarely ever see eye to eye on anything and it can be extremely confusing, like being the tennis ball in Wimbledon. I never know which side of the net I'm going to land. A REAL STRUGGLE! I am not at the present too in touch with my smallest parts, it's my adolescents, most of them having grown into young adults, that have actively ruled the roost my whole adult life and they are the ones I'm dealing with at present. The young ones I think mostly come out in ways of extreme fear, panic and loneliness, just a deep emotion that takes over, not much in way of clear thoughts or language type communication. Making great progress, but still have a ways to go!

    Hang in there! Healing is going to happen, keep believing it. :)