Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How I Became Crazy

My mother nearly starved me as an infant. She had postpartum depression and could not stand to hold me. She did not notice that there wasn't a hole in the nipple on the bottle and that I was not getting milk. She thought I was willful and unwilling to suckle the bottle. This event set the stage for a lifetime of conflict and desperate need.

At three I was raped by a nineteen year old boy who was a friend of my brothers. My mother was the only one who knew, since she walked in on the act in progress. She told no one. But when I had to pee and it burned, she told me "Never let a boy do that to you," giving me responsibility at three for what an adult did to me. I regressed and hid in the bathroom, the only door I could lock.

She taught me to smoke when I was five. She told me no one likes children, so I should act like a grown up. She taught me how to mix a cocktail. Though these were skills of a sort, they made me freakishly grown up and set me up to be objectified.

She ran away from my family and only took me with her, then sent me to Texas to live with relatives. I was well cared for but knew I'd been abandoned.

She married a pedophile from a very prominent family and took me back when I was six. This man adopted me and began sexually abusing me which went on in her presence until I was eleven and started menstruating. I was told I was too old for my Daddy anymore. I was then turned over to my mother who began to use me like her own personal cleaning lady. Again, this responsibility for all the housework did give me skills, but let me know that my only worth was now as servant to my mother. I was told there is no such think as unconditional love. "You have to earn love." My dad no longer found me useful, so I had to earn my mother's love by keeping the house clean and the laundry done. I was an A student but was told I wasn't living up to my potential. I was never praised for anything but the way I looked. My mother then started telling my my nose was too big. She pinched my budding breasts, she spit in my face, she goosed me at every opportunity. We were a good looking, well educated, upper middle class family. My mother always worked and my father was a psychologist. I was a ticking time bomb.

When I began to date I was told by my family that the only reason a boy would be interested in me was to "get inside (my) pants." I was told my only worth was between my legs. I began to loathe myself. I started cutting and puncturing my skin with things like an ice pick. I put cigarettes out on the back of my hand. I clawed the flesh of my face. I detested myself.

By the time I was seventeen I knew I couldn't live at home anymore. I skipped my senior year of high school so I could go to the University of Utah and live in the dorms.

Depression took me like a gentle lover. All of this is enough to drive a child crazy. By seventeen I had PTSD. But I was also bipolar and full of unfocused rage.


PENolan said...

glad you're still here with us to tell the story, girlfriend.

Nobody said...

You're not crazy, Utah. It's them.

Spadoman said...

Thank you for sharing. These words must have needed to be said, and you were chosen to tell them. Have you seen this video?
Not your experience, yet your story made me think of this and what we do to children.

May you have Peace in your heart.

Kimberly said...

You lived an entire life before you were ready too. It is very unfortunate that these things happen & not just to the good people but that they have to happen at all. I can tell you to hold your head high & continued healing but we know those are just words & this type of torture you endured deserves much more.

bethany said...

As I get older, I'm no longer shocked by the awful things people do to others, particularly children, I'm more shocked by how they can do what they do, and live in such denial.

As I explained, my mother is a hoarder. I'm now looking at how her choices affected my life, and it isn't pretty. Sad thing is, she'll never get help for her disease, but I fear having children that I pass on her disease to. Hoarding is a symptom of OCD, and her hoarding is why I can't stand to have "too much". I'd rather go without than have so much. I get claustrophobic if I don't clean out a closet... and I can't enjoy Christmas, because presents aren't about Christmas - they're about her disease and her needing to buy, buy, buy. They're not personal, in other words.

One Christmas, the best Christmas in a long time, my father told her five gifts for each person, except the grandchildren... She was SO convinced we'd be so miserable. My sister was, to a point. I wasn't. It was the best year ever, but she thinks it was a bust.

Neither one of us can be happy if the other is, I guess.

They think I'm bipolar, though I'm not. They think this, b/c I can "be sweet one minute and angry the next". What they don't agree with is that, angry takes a long time of pushing to get to, and everyone has a breaking point.

This took a lot of courage to post... and I'm sorry you've heard some negative feedback. I look at mental illness - I have anxiety and depression and others b/c of my family history - as a different way of looking at the world. Normal is so very boring. I hate being medicated b/c I can't WRITE and that frustrates me more than the mental issues. I write a lot of poetry, but when medicated all of that creativity dries up...

I also fear pills b/c my mother believes there's a pill that cures everything. Growing up, I was told to take pills for stomach aches, but when you're 5 and you eat too much, you want Mom to soothe your stomach, not tell you to take an aspirin and harp on how it's your fault.

At least she didn't do that with my asthma, but then, I had attacks b/c I failed to take pills to prevent the asthma. Noticing a pattern? I don't discount every pill she tries to throw at me, but I abhor being on medication for precisely that reason. Add in that she refuses to eat, and I think she's got undiagnosed bulimic issues, and it just - It's hard not to understand how people don't see how much MENTAL illness affects you, particularly when at least ONE parent refuses to admit that they need help.

I'm glad you lived to tell the tale, though. Mine was an inconvenience compared to yours.

Mauigirl said...

Anyone would be crazy after that upbringing...and yet you took care of your mother in the end. I'm glad you came through it all - you may be bipolar but you have survived.