Mental Health – Healing Stepparent Trauma – Part 2

Journal entry 11/10/2018

When I was 5, my dad married my first stepmother. I remember meeting her and her daughter for the first time in their apartment in Florida. My dad, whom I will call Bud, took me to meet them and I remember feeling excited to meet my future sister. I was hoping to have a playmate and companion who would cure my loneliness.

The little girl, whom I will call Cruella, my soon to be sister, was 4 years older than I and definitely not interested in being friendly to me. She didn’t want me to come into her room or to touch her toys. This never changed for the duration of the marriage. If anything, she felt more comfortable to say mean things to me and make me feel alienated from everything, including her and her mother. She would call me names like Stinkum. I remember wondering if I actually did stink. She made me feel smelly and ugly and worthless by the way she would speak to and about me. She would incessantly ridicule everything about me.

The stepmother, whom I will call Maleficent, did not seem happy that I had returned from my mother’s to live with my father. She didn’t plan on being a stepmom. She had hoped that Bud would be her financial supporter. She wasn’t expecting to have to deal with his child as a part of the package. She wasn’t nice to me. I remember one time, in the early days when I was still around the age of 5 or 6, before I started kindergarten, I came down with the stomach flu. I had just eaten a bowl of oatmeal and I wasn’t feeling well. I went to the toilet, had diarrhea and vomited at the same time. I did not know how to not make a mess. I threw up in my pants as I sat on the toilet with the symptoms of the virus coming out of both ends. I was crying from fear and pain. Maleficent burst into the bathroom, resentful and enraged at having to clean me up. While doing it she was demanding and rough, and she jerked me around physically. The memory of that time still causes me to feel traumatized whenever I get sick.

Maleficent and Cruella once decided to leave Bud and me for good. I came home from summer camp and there were boxes of their things everywhere. They had left and then changed their minds and come back while I was gone. I was afraid to be abandoned so when it happened again and Maleficent told me she intended to leave Bud, I confessed to her that I had been sexually abused by my mother’s husband earlier around the ages of 6 to 8. Her horrified response took me by surprise. I felt like I had done something wrong. She took me to a therapist who asked me detailed questions about what had happened as Maleficent sat in the room staring at me. The look of disgust on her face when the therapist asked me questions about what my stepfather had done made me afraid so I lied and said he didn’t make me do things that he actually did. I wasn’t able to tell the truth about what had happened because I was afraid of being rejected. Bud never participated in the conversation about my sexual abuse. Because I had lied, my stepfather never faced justice. Nothing ever became of my case.

Maleficent and Cruella finally left Bud and me when I was around 12 years old. I came home from school to an empty house. There was nothing in the house, all furniture and furnishings were gone except for the contents of my room, Bud’s bed and personal belongings, a TV dinner and a 6-pack of beer in the fridge.

Maleficent and Cruella stayed locally with some friends of theirs. Cruella continued to attend school in town. I was still known as her little sister. When she became sexually active, apparently, she became known as a promiscuous person. Later, when I attended the same middle and high school, I became guilty by association even though I had yet to be in any kind of relationship with a boy. Kids were calling Cruella a slut, since I’m her little sister, they assumed I must be one, too. This confused me and was very painful.

Shortly after Maleficent and Cruella moved out, Bud became involved with a woman who lived across the street whom I will call Ursula. I had met her while playing with her 3 kids, who were close to my age and new in town. One day she came over and introduced herself to Bud who was working outside in the ditch in our driveway. Within a few weeks I came home from school to find our empty house filled with her furniture and stuff. She and her kids had moved in and within four months or so, she was married to Bud.

Ursula and her children, two girls who I will call Drizella and Anastasia, and a 5 year old boy who I will call Bubba, made my life a living hell. Ursula began gaslighting me (and Bud). She would tell him lies about me and my behavior to incite his anger toward me. I remember feeling like I was in hell and I had nowhere to go. Ursula called me a whore when I was 13, before I had been involved with any boys. When I did become involved with a boy, who had a car and could take me away from home for extended periods of time, I gave in to his demands for sex before I really wanted to. I felt defeated and worthless. I was already being called a whore by the town and my own household anyway. I reasoned that I might as well give him what he wants if that’s what it takes to get out of the house.

I became pregnant st the age of 15. I found out while I was spending my summer break with my biological mom. I was terrified of what it would be like at home if Bud and Ursula found out so I took my mom’s advice and had an abortion. When I returned home, my boyfriend was threatening to leave me. It turned out that he had been cheating on me for months. His parents never liked me and his dad had even hired a girl to break us up. That’s another story. He was overly obsessed with sex so even though he wanted to break up with me, he had sex with me and we got pregnant again. This time I chose to have the baby, a boy, and place it for adoption.

Bud, my own father, was not supportive of me, neither was Ursula. I remember Ursula and Drizella being extremely cruel and judgmental toward me and being totally unsupportive. Bud was generally angry all the time. Ursula’s kids seemed to make him angrier. Yet, at the same time, he succumbed to pressure from her to spend time with her and them. They were camping as a family while I was giving birth to the baby, alone in a hospital at the age of 16.

Ten years later after Ursula’s kids were grown and she was finished using Bud, I gave birth to my own child, a daughter, and Drizella called me to say how glad she was that I’ll never know what it’s like to have a boy (referring the baby boy I gave up for adoption). Ursula recently commented on one of my blogs posts saying that I was jealous of her kids, that she was so kind and caring toward me, even spent time talking to me and taking me to therapy and I am just making it a pity party for myself, that my life is all about “poor me”. From my perspective, her comments were so out of alignment with my reality that I couldn’t and still can’t think of a reasonable way to respond.

(This lady is almost in her 70’s now and she is still behaving the same way. I have said many times that most people are just acting on behalf of their suffering inner children. This lady, Ursula is no exception. But that’s another story).

She’s right in one sense though, I was jealous of her kids because when they came into my life and my house, they made Bud’s behavior worse than ever. She was just looking for a meal ticket for her kids and I (also a kid) was just in her way. My father didn’t protect me from her.

I recently asked Bud why he married these women and if he had considered the impact they would have on me. He said he married them because he just likes being married.
That’s it.
(It reminds me of my own marriage. My spouse said to me early on that his favorite part of being married is being able to have sex anytime he wants. I experienced that as him rolling over in the middle of the night and putting his penis in me while I’m asleep. Which is not consensual. Which is rape. Even if you’re married. But that, too, is another story).

I still suffer from the painful trauma of my father and stepmothers. I have been working to get to the bottom of the issue so that I can heal and move forward. I was just a kid and I was being gaslighted by adults. This was incredibly cruel, abusive, painful and damaging. It altered the course of my life.

It has been said that children learn what they live. If they live in abuse and cruelty, they will learn to be abusive and cruel. While I have admittedly been mildly abusive and cruel, I was mostly abusive and cruel to myself. Rather than turn my rage outward onto others, I turned my rage into my self. I agreed with what was impressed upon me from a young age, which is that I was worthless, unwanted, that I am a problem that everyone just has to deal with. I was not taught that I was deserving of love, that I deserved to have my needs met physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I was not taught that I could do good things, that the things I do are worthy and that I was intelligent and valuable. My dad and stepmothers never told me they were proud of me. They didn’t encourage me in any way at all. I was taught through neglect and abuse that I was just a situation that nobody really wanted to deal with and that if I was emotional about it, there was something wrong with me. It seems now as if I was made to feel crazy because I didn’t agree with the way I was being treated. Like they actually think that I should have been ok with being treated like shit instead of having any kind of emotional reaction to it.

To me, being ok with being abused seems insane. I seem to be in the minority in thinking like this. I still have people tell me that I should get over it and that everyone has their issues, everyone had a bad childhood in one way or another, my story isn’t any different than anyone else’s. Implying I shouldn’t have feelings about it. Or I shouldn’t still be talking about it. After what I’ve been through, I could have become a sociopath. I could have done a lot of things to hurt people. But I didn’t. I am too loving a person to return the kind of treatment that has been done to me. I’m working on forgiveness for the people who have tortured me. I’m working on forgiving myself and feeling worthy of being alive because I wasn’t made to feel worthy as a child.

I spent many years believing I was crazy and mentally ill. While I may have been mentally unwell, I am on my way to recovery. I wasn’t born mentally unstable, I became unstable because I was enduring horrendous abuse. It seemed crazy because I was so angry I couldn’t control it.

Mental illness is a lot more complicated than the idea that you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. In my opinion, mental health has a lot more to do with how you are being treated.

Nature vs. Nurture.

In my case, mental health has everything to do with my environment and the people I am surrounded by.

That’s all I have to say about this …

for now

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