Growing up in an abusive home, children often find they have nowhere to go and no place to turn. So, they turn to their imaginations to help them cope.
I’m writing this post out of my own experiences with the pretend world I lived in as a kid. I’ll try not to be triggering, but the sadness I feel when discussing this topic may show through.
Life In Hell
Living in my house was like living in a war zone. One never knew when a bomb shell would explode nearby and make you a causality. There was constant yelling, bickering, and other unpleasant noise and abuse that I was only too eager to escape.
Before age nine I would spend my time outdoors playing as hard as I could. I wanted desperately to be part of a family that ate regular meals, had a clean house and like each other. That was not my reality.
When the weather was too foul to play outside, before the advent of cable television, I resorted to make believe and books to cope. I had a set of Happy Hollister books and read all of them twice. This was at the age of six. By the time I was eight I had read all our encyclopedias. It was much simpler to block out the noise and pretend I wasn’t there if I had my head in a book. I could pretend I was in faraway places living with animals or exploring strange worlds.
After age nine, I decided not to play outside anymore. We had moved to Illinois from Tennessee and I was in shock. Compared to the modern conditions of being and living near a Naval base that I had been raised in, Illinois was old and very different. I spoke with a strong southern accent and the other kids wasted no time making fun of me. To make matters worse, some of the neighborhood kids were sexually confused and abusive. To me it was horrifying to realize that I was no safer outside than in. So, I stopped going out.
I began to spend hours upon hours closed-up in my bedroom. I still had books and got interested in listening to music. For my ninth birthday my father bought me a little transistor radio with an earphone and I would listen to it constantly. When I could pull myself out of my room, I’d watch hour upon hour of television. I wanted my family to be like the ones I saw every day in television reruns. They loved and supported each other and didn’t yell. Then they would solve whatever problem was perplexing them in under an hour.
As a teenager I preferred the safety of my bedroom to the unexpected that I could expect among my peers. I went on zero dates during my teenage years hiding inside books and trying desperately to be invisible. The abuse I suffered at the hands of a man in my family became overwhelming during these turbulent developmental years, and after I told on him and was subsequently disowned by that side if the family, my despair grew ever deeper. I think the only thing that kept me from dying by suicide at that tender age was my being a multiple.
To this day, I’m not certain if that was good or bad. Had I died then I think it would have been better.
Fantasy was my only escape from a world that did not want me and from my own emotions connected with not being wanted.
Fantasy Was My Way of Coping
Tragically, I know while reading this many of you understand what I am saying and can relate. When living in hell, one tends to find ways to cope, and fantasy is a wonderful escape.
On top of this, we had already formed alters to help us. We were not alone when we isolated then nor are we now. I have been in my bedroom all day today isolating myself from my family. I feel safe if I’m cocooned in here with my door closed.
I feel horribly saddened that we had to go through what we did as kids. We should never have had to find solace in the fantasy of books, make believe and television. We needed and deserved so much better.
Today my brother and his wife have been having some problems, and I have been very triggered. I am fighting very hard to stay in the present. My heart and mind want to time travel back to the days when I was a kid and relive the horror of those days. I do not. Yes, my alters are all me and I them, but most of me does not wish to live in trauma-time any longer. I am very upset with the other two adults in my household who have such reckless regard for the emotional states of myself and my very young nephew.
Unlike my nephew, I do not bounce back quickly after hearing the yelling disturbance that went on this morning. Yes, I realize that married couples sometimes bicker, but they know how upset I become when I am orced to listen to such bullshit. Sigh.
I guess I wanted to write this piece to say this.
I am not a know-it-all. I do not have the answers. I never claimed to. I am just an average Joe-Blow who survived things that should have killed me. Today I feel like giving up. I don’t care if I live or die. Admitting that isn’t easy for me because I am one of the people I wrote about in my previous article. I smile the entire time I am feeling dead inside.
Nope no pep talk today. No smiling when I feel like shit. Just honesty so that I can in some way connect with you and say, “Hey, I’m just like you.”
“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.” Kent M.
I admired her.
Not for her for her smile, though it was beautiful.