The suicidal thoughts are gone so I am not battling them at the moment. But I almost wish they were back. Now I am dealing with rage. Call it anger, at least anger is more socially acceptable but it is really rage.
I took the dogs for a walk along an arroyo this morning which allows mixed use of bicycles and pedestrians . If I hear a bicyclist coming or someone calls out “on your left”, I step off the trail with my little dogs who like to jump up on people. I keep them on tight leash anyway because I don’t want them to run up to other pedestrians. Usually when I step off the trail the bicyclist acknowledges my gesture with a smile or a thank you.
One woman glared at me when she rode past. I felt rage rise in my throat and before I could catch myself I yelled “you’re welcome” like a complete jerk. She stopped her bike and gave me a lecture about walking my dogs on the trail. I felt a murderous rage at this. I really wanted to hit her.
Just before going for the walk I decided to use the count to ten strategy with my anger. I also realized I feel the anger/rage in my throat just before I vocalize it so I decided to watch for that cue. Well these strategies were not even in play. I lost it before I even remembered them.
I’ve been thinking about the rage all day. The picture in my blog is of my family when I was about five. You can see I was angry that day. I don’t know why. But I have a hunch that anger saved me in a very dysfunctional and violent family. Even at five you might not have wanted to mess with me.
Well I have figured out what I am so angry about and it is ridiculous. I have written before that I went to a therapist for the better part of two years before and after my husband killed himself. As you can imagine a lot of transference took place in those two years and I guess you could have called Brad my good Father. He always seemed so caring and kind. But when I became suicidal nearly a year after my husband’s suicide, I definitely had issues with Brad and acted out with him. On the day I threatened to kill myself he had the police pick me up and hospitalize me and told the hospital he wanted nothing to do with me. I was the names of an incompetent therapist and psychiatrist when they released me and had no one to turn to. Brad never called the hospital to see how I was doing.
What I have come to terms with today was that Brad had no committment to me. I had assumed that by becoming his patient he had a reciprocal obligation to me. But apparently he felt ok to desert me in the middle of the worst psychological event of my life. He said he was doing it for my own good . Of course. There seems that there is no ethic in the profession against deserting a patient. Now I understand. It is what it is. I guess I wanted to believe that Brad was a good man in spite of the evidence. And that, my friends is my responsibility, not his. And now my rage is gone.
Recently I came across a blog by Ed Yong, February 22, 2009 from Discover Magazine. The blog is about the relationship of suicide in later life for victims of child abuse. The blog says the trauma of child abuse can last a lifetime, leading to a higher risk of suicide, anxiety and depression. This link seems obvious, but a group of Canadian scientists have found that it has a genetic basis. It was found that child abuse modifies a gene called NR3C1 that affects a person’s ability to deal with stress. A normal person’s body automatically limits a stress reaction whereas for the victim of childhood abused stress levels go though the roof at any provocation leaving the person at much higher levels of stress than a normal person.
As a child I knew my parents wished I didn’t exist. I spent my childhood terrified of my father’s beatings and threats. My mother would urge him on. To this day I can hear her calling him knowing what he would do to me. I remember the expression on her face as she called him.
Yet the funny thing was that I loved them. I figured they didn’t love me because I wasn’t lovable and I always tried to make them happy. By the time I was six I would come home from school and clean the house and make dinner every night. I didn’t rebel. I think I hoped they would love me if I just did it well enough. I can’t remember a compliment on my work. Eventually I knew they weren’t going to love me and after doing the dishes at night I would go to my room and listen to the radio. They never sought me out for my company with the rest of the family.
My first suicide attempt was at 12 years old. I had several more attempts in my teen years. My parents told me I would never amount to anything. Funny when I was 16 I had the highest IOWA test scores in the state. The school started to look into my life and my parents were more constrained. I graduated from high school just before my seventeenth birthday and left home.
The odd thing was that I did well in my professional life. When I left my parents home I put myself through UCLA in mathematics by waiting tables. After I graduated I had a good career in the new field of computers. Eventually I started a business which I ran for many years.
Having been raised in an atheistic family which believed in social Darwinism I always wished there was a God. At 39 I finally believed in Christ. I finally had something that was rock strong. I began as a Catholic and have tried other churches. Finally I am at peace that I can read the Bible and know God. I learned kindness to others and while that often doesn’t turn out well I have learned I am not responsible for other people’s reactions. Many events and people contribute to helping others.
I believe that what I have gone through has meaning but that only God knows it and perhaps I will know it too someday.
One odd thing I found out in the last few years of my mother’s life is the reason she could never love me was because I had brown eyes. The evils of Social Darwinism at work.