MY Story: Split “Life” Disorder

Hi!  My name is Shauna and I am an Overcomer in Christ.  I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  I am a survivor of physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse in a previous marriage.  I am an overcomer of food addiction, love and relationship addiction, rage and anger mismanagement, kleptomania, co-dependency and people pleasing.

And this is MY story.

Most of us are aware of the term “split personality disorder”.  I sometimes think of my childhood in these terms, but instead of myself being fractured into multiple parts, my life was split.

My time in school is easily broken into sections by grade.  I had a teachers face to attach a lot of images to inside the classroom.  It is easy to remember the abuse done to me inside each classroom because I had a distinct location for this trauma.

Life outside of the classroom, but still within school grounds (or on the school bus) is harder for me to place an age reference to the “re-telling” of the incident.  It is hard to know exactly when it happened, and where to place it in the stream of recollection.

Life at home is even more challenging to place within the stream of recollection because it was the same – day in and day out.  Everything I experienced at home sort of blurs together, making it difficult to place exactly when something occurred.

And here is where the split happens: the struggles I faced at home were radically different from the struggles I faced at home.  The feelings attached to my memories at home are so dissimilar to the emotions of my school memories that I sometimes experience a sort of whiplash when reliving them. Things are so disconnected that I scarcely even know how or where to start retelling them.

At home there were consequences for my bad choices at school, as well as consequences for my bad choices at home.  But life at home was not all horrible.  I have a lot of happy memories, and I honestly thought my home life was pretty normal.  It wasn’t until I moved into adulthood, and shared some of my experiences with others that I realized that quite a bit of it was anything but normal.

I experienced the usual spankings, time outs, toy removal, sentence writing and television loss as most children.  But after that, the normality ended.  My parents tried a lot of different techniques in order to modify my behavior.  All the while, completely unaware that they were fighting a losing battle we could never hope to win.

Being “grounded” was actually pretty pointless.  I was an only child, and I was used to be ostracized by schoolmates, so being “sent to my room” did not have the desired effect.  In an attempt to facilitate the desired effect, the items in my room were removed little by little until I was left with absolutely nothing other than a bed, dresser and desk.  No posters on the wall, no decorations, no pretty bed spread, absolutely nothing that I could use to catch my attention.  Still, I was content to sit on my bed for hours on end.

We had textured walls and ceilings.  Did you know that if you stare at them long enough and let your eyes relax the wall will start to waver and all kinds of designs and details will appear?  It’s kind of like looking for shapes in the clouds.  That is what I learned being confined to my room for days on end.  I didn’t think about what I did wrong, heck, most of the time I didn’t even remember.  I spent my time finding elephants and boats.

My mom took away my dolls, and I just used my hands instead.  They would carry on full conversations with each other the same as if I had two toys to play with.  I would do “eenie meenie minie moe” type songs with my fingers until I had eliminated them all.  Then I would start over again.  It didn’t really matter.  I remember spending whole weekends sitting on my bed staring at the walls.  Not just an hour or two after school, but two whole entire days not leaving my bed except to eat and go to the bathroom.  You would think that this would be enough to drive any respectable 7-12 year old completely stir crazy and whip them right into shape.  But it did nothing for me.

As much as I found ways to entertain myself, I absolutely hated being confined to my room.  The silence and blank walls irritated me to no end.  But it didn’t motivate me enough to change my behavior because I never remembered what I had done wrong by the time I was finished serving my sentence. Not to mention that with the ADHD came a complete lack of impulse control, which most children lack anyway.

I remember weekend after weekend after weekend pulling weeds and picking up dog poo and working in the yard with my parents.  I knew at the time that these were consequences, and I know looking back on them that it was supposed to be a form of “punishment”.  Unfortunately for my parents, these were also completely normal occurrences in our household as well.  We had 1/2 acre and on that acre we had nearly every fruit tree you can think off, lots of grass and plants that constantly needed care and 2 dogs.  Those dogs had to be picked up after whether I was in trouble or not.  So to use this as consequences, kind of back fired.  I actually remember most of these days with fondness and togetherness — MOST of them.

There are of course, those exceptions that stand out like a sore thumb.  I do remember one summer in particular where the weeds in one section of our yard were nearly as tall as my father – 5′ 7″.  And the are we grew up in was granite rock.  You usually needed a pick axe to do anything more than a small hole.  And it was HOT.  My job for the summer was to pull the weeds in this approximately
12′ x 12′ section.  My “torture” would end when I finished pulling all the weeds.  That sounds awesome right?  Get them done quickly and I could go about my merry way?  Need I remind you that these weeds were bigger than me, growing out of rock at most had at least a 1″ thick stalk? Oh — and it’s usually about 99 -102 degrees, and I am probably between 9-11, with severe ADHD.  I couldn’t have stayed focused on eating long enough to finish my meal even if it was the last one I was ever going to eat.  My dad often joked that I was so forgetful that I would forget my own head even though it WAS attached.

And yet, the emotional undercurrent of my life at home did not compare to that of my life at school.  At home, as angry as I would get, as frustrated as I would become, I always felt loved and wanted.  I felt safe and secure.  There was a consistency and routine to my life that made it easy to cope with the disjointed mess in my head.  I may not have always been able to stay on task, but I wasn’t often surprised by the consequences.  And most of the time, there was an emotional disconnect for my mom.  Most of time, I did not feel as though her consequences and punishments were given out with shame attached.  She punished because I had done wrong, not because she was ashamed of me or simply angry with me.  I know I drove her crazy, I could tell she was at her wit’s end a lot of the time because my behavior was like a bad record stuck in a groove constantly replaying the same line, but it usually wasn’t personal.

At school, there was always shame involved.  Every aspect of every day was full of shame and worthlessness.  Teachers abused me, students abused me, teachers allowed the students to abuse me, and it was always personal.  It was always an attempt to squash, diminish, shame or otherwise destroy my integrity and sense of self.

There was a brokenness to my life, to my every day being and surviving.  In the differences of school and home, there almost was a sort of personality split within me that I still battle today.  The little girl who wants so desperately to no longer feel ashamed and broken and for others to accept her for exactly who she is constantly at war with the adult who has tentatively grasped at the notion that I am beautifully and wonderfully made.  I am a unique and eccentric individual who must not put her light under a basket.  My ideas are worth something to my family and the world around me, and the little girl who was always silenced and pushed down will one day soon stand strong and proud, and she will roar and be silenced no more.

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MY Story: The Blame Game Begins

Hi!  My name is Shauna and I am an Overcomer in Christ.  I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  I am a survivor of physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse in a previous marriage.  I am an overcomer of food addiction, love and relationship addiction, rage and anger mismanagement, kleptomania, co-dependency and people pleasing.

And this is MY story.

My behavior issues were noticed by the school administration.  I was quickly labeled as a “problem child”.

I don’t know about you, but the picture that comes to mind when someone says “problem child” is a student that adamantly refuses to follow instruction, rude, often disrespectful, highly disruptive, sometimes violent, possibly even destructive in nature and basically makes the school classroom unmanageable for the teacher.

I have no issues in admitting that I was not an easy student, but at this age, I was in NO way that kind of problem child.

However, the school continued to claim that I was a major disruption and that there must be something going on at home.  And my parents continued to maintain that it must be something happening at school because at home there were no indications of the behavior the school claimed to be dealing with.

At the time I had no idea what was going on, my mother did not reveal the schools accusations to me until I was well into high school.  Once she did, a lot of what happened that year made sense.

On more than one occasion I was called into the principal’s office to have a “talk” with the principal, two counselors and two other people who I did not know.  I can only assume now that they were some sort of school board or state people.

I was questioned at length during these interviews about life at home.  I was repeatedly asked if my parents were “hurting” me.  On more than one occasion I was asked to strip so that the “officials” could document bruises, cuts and scrapes.  These interviews were never done with my parents present and at the age of 7 I had NO idea that this was not okay.  All I remember is wondering what I had done wrong, why they were asking me so many questions.  I felt vulnerable and scared.  When I was asked to take off my clothing, I felt dirty and broken.  I just knew in my heart that I was a horrible monster and there must be something very, very wrong with me.  If there wasn’t, why wouldn’t they just leave me alone?

After one particular “interview”, after filling my brain with plenty of suggestive material, I must have finally said what they wanted me to say.  The state showed up at our house to do a thorough search and determine whether or not I was a victim of child abuse.  Needless to say, nothing at all was found to support this evidence, because it didn’t exist.

Things continued to decline for me at school.  ADHD was not yet on the radar, but I was labeled as hyperactive and it was suggested that my diet be restricted of foods that might escalate this behavior.  So anything with caffeine was strictly forbidden and sugar was drastically reduced.  In today’s world, children are restricted from all sorts of foods due to allergens and there are a lot of options available, including sugar-free for those with diabetes.  In the late ’80’s this was not the case.  Not only that, I did not suffer any adverse reactions to eating these foods, such as a stomach ache, headache, or hives, so there was not external motivation to stick to this diet.  Needless to say, at school, I did not follow orders.

I made my own lunches with the approved snacks and such, but once I got to school, I usually didn’t eat it.  Suffice it to say that I was very creative in getting my hands on the goodies I was not supposed to have.  But I would do not so smart things and I would stuff the wrappers in my bag or pockets so the teachers wouldn’t see me throwing it away.  Of course, the attention span and memory of a 7-year-old quickly kicked in and I forgot.  Once I got home, the evidence was discovered and I was busted.

One thing led to another and the teachers were fairly successful in keeping me away from the sweets.  I eventually began stealing from the other students lunches.  I was quite good at it too, which did not help matters at all.  Needless to say, I had been in an environment that for the last two years I was told I was not good at anything, that everything I did was wrong. I was constantly under ridicule and being demeaned for speaking out of turn, refusing to conform to the rules and being a “know-it-all”.  When I was able to steal without being caught, it excited me.  There were quite a few times I was caught, but not often enough to deter me from doing it again and again.  The immediate gratification appealed to my short attention spanned nature and I was unable to use logic to stop this behavior.

I can look back now and see this series of events as the seeds for my addiction to this behavior being planted by the enemy.  As an adult, I have little to no memory of the thefts.  I remember eating the goodies, I remember a few instances of consequences.  One of those is very distinct.  I can see myself and my mother standing in the grocery aisle.  I am supposed to be picking out the replacement of a sweet I stole from another child.  I remember her explaining to me that I needed to replace what I had stolen, and an extra to show that I was sorry for what I had done.  I can very clearly remember not feeling sorry.  It’s kind of creepy as an adult to go back through that and have no memory of feeling remorse.

Another memory I have is of stealing candy from the grocery store bins.  Our store had several plastic bins stacked atop one another, a lot like the ones at the Candy Factory in the mall.  This loose candy was just too tempting for me and I pulled several pieces out and put them in my pocket.  When my  mother discovered I had done this, she made me go back in and return the candy and apologize.  Again, I felt no remorse for my actions, I was numb and unaware of how damaging my decisions were.  I had no clue the vicious cycle that was being created in me.  The enemy was working in me, and over the next five years, he would have me tightly bound in these chains of kleptomania.

MY Story: The Simplicity Ends

 Any names, unless given specific permission, have been changed to protect their anonymity.

Hi!  My name is Shauna and I am an Overcomer in Christ.  I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  I am a survivor of physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse in a previous marriage.  I am an overcomer of food addiction, love and relationship addiction, rage and anger mismanagement, kleptomania, co-dependency and people pleasing.

And this is MY story.

I do not have a lot of memories of kindergarten, just a few snap shots here and there, nothing very concrete.

1st grade however, was a whole different animal and I remember it very well.  I may not remember it in perfect chronological order, but I do remember it.  And there are a lot of times, when I think back on my childhood, that those were some of the years I wish the most that I could forget.  It was a major turning point in my life and I firmly believe that had the school system handled things much differently, the rest of my life would have been drastically different.  I am not always sure whether or not I want it to be different, because it has made me who I am today, that classic cliché response.  It is, however cliché, still very true that our paths shape us and mold us.

My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Tims, was a cold and cruel older woman.  She was well on her way to retirement and possibly past her time to no longer be teaching.  Now as an adult, I can look back and surmise that her “light” had gone out and she no longer had a passion or love for teaching, if she ever had it at all.

Mrs. Tims was my first abuser.  Discipline in her class was special for me.  I was singled out and humiliated in ways that the other students were not.  Had the other students received the same punishments as I did, I would have thought nothing of it, but this was not the case.  I was made to sit facing the wall in the front of the classroom for an hour or more at a time.  I was called stupid, idiot, brat, heathen, savage, etc. if I made the smallest error.

I remember at one point she used the check system for the class, one I am sure some of you will be familiar with.  At the first infraction your name would go on the chalkboard as a warning.  The next mess up was a check mark and you had to sit out 1st recess.  Second check mark and you sat alone at lunch.  Third check mark and you sat out second recess – you get the picture.  If you sat out at recess like you were supposed to, then your check mark was erased.  And at the end of the day the names were erased and everyone started fresh the next morning.

I was not allowed to start with a fresh slate, my check marks remained on the board for everyone to see, every single day.  And more were added daily, with no end in sight. When I sat on the bench, my check mark wasn’t erased.  Since there was no end to my check marks, I stopped obeying them, and I would go play at recess.  When I did this, I had another check mark added.  Needless to say that within a few months my name was on the left side of the board, and my checks extended to the other side of the board.

I have no problem looking back at my past and admitting that I was a handful.  I had a lot of energy, my mind went a mile a minute and I am sure my mouth followed suit.  As I sit here and write this, that small voice is trying to come back into my mind and make me question what I experienced.  It wants me to minimize how I was treated and dismiss it because it was only a bunch of silly check marks.  And I am sure a few reading this might be inclined to agree.  But I know that I have every right to be hurt by what this woman did to me.  I know that there is no way for a grown woman to justify treating a 6 year old little girl with this level of animosity and callousness.  I was 6 and these check marks were only the beginning of a long list of “special treatment” that I was subjected to my entire childhood at the hands of authority figures.

During this same year we were beginning to learn to count money.  For some reason, God only knows why, I just didn’t get it.  Mrs. Tims would explain it, show us the difference between a penny, nickel and dime.  We would walk through a few problems together and then be given our own worksheets.  I remember easily working on the sheets, finishing them and turning them in.  Over and over my worksheets were returned covered in red check marks.  Every single problem was wrong, day after day after day.  I would ask for help and be told ‘no’.  I would ask for help and I was told, “if you don’t get it by now, there is nothing I can do for you”.  I would ask other students for help, and I would be sent to the corner for being disruptive.  When my mother finally caught wind of this issue, she came to the school to discuss it with Mrs. Tims.  Her words to my mother were this:

“I have done things to Shauna that I have never done to another student.  I don’t know what else to do to her, I cannot teach her.”

For Mrs. Tims, I was not a child in need of help, I was an entity that would not conform and bend to her will.  She did things TO me in an attempt to conform me instead of doing FOR me in an attempt to guide and educate me.

My Story: Everyone has a Beginning

I decided that I needed to find a way to make this a little easier on myself, in case I should not be able to produce a blurb every week, how would I keep my readers engaged?  Then I remembered that I have been a writer since I was 10.  I have piles of short stories and poems, what better place to start unearthing them than here?  I also came to the realization that in a way, this is still sharing my past because I wrote them ages ago.  That being said, here is the first installment — easy because it is the beginning.

 Any names, unless given specific permission, have been changed to protect their anonymity.

Hi!  My name is Shauna and I am an Overcomer in Christ.  I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  I am a survivor of physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse in a previous marriage.  I am an overcomer of food addiction, love and relationship addiction, rage and anger mismanagement, kleptomania, co-dependency and people pleasing.

And this is MY story.

Every well written story deserves a look backward to where it all began.  Mine is no different.

My mother is second oldest of six children, born in the early 1950’s.  It is not her story that I tell, but if I were, it would be a dozy.  There is no fairy tale version of the life she lived, and she brought her brokenness with her when she married my father.

My father was the eldest of six children, born in 1950.  He does not talk of his childhood much.  I know that his father worked every hour he could to support his family and that his mother succumbed to cancer when he was just 18.  Any memories he speaks of are usually at his grandparents or a certain uncle and aunt that he grew very close to.  He also carried his brokenness, habits and hang-ups into his marriage to my mother.

I was adopted on April 14th, 1982 two days after being born in a San Jose, California hospital.

I suffered from chronic ear infections and at the age of 4/5 my mother discovered a hearing issue and took me to the doctor.  They learned that I had a nearly 45% hearing loss at the time and had more than likely experienced this level of hearing loss, if not more since my 1st ear infection.  I had tubes put in my ears every year for the next 4-5 years to correct the issue.  Unfortunately, as an infant I had learned to “hear” by reading lips.  Several years into my elementary education I was diagnosed with audio/visual perception disorder.  I believe this was created by learning to “hear” with my eyes.  It causes me to struggle to comprehend what is being said if I cannot see a person’s face to read their lips, or have the subtitles on the television.  Needless to say, talking on the phone is extremely challenging.

After a few years of apartments, my parents finally found a house on ½ an acre in a very rural part of Woodcrest just outside of Riverside, California.  We were completely surrounded by hundreds of acres of orange trees, which the neighborhood kids and I took full advantage of every summer.

Those are some of my best memories; playing in those orange groves. Climbing trees, eating warm oranges on a hot summer day.  Winding our way through the maze of trunks and leaves, the scent of citrus heavy in our nostrils, until we were so giddy and dirty we could barely stand it. The sun would start to drop below the tops of the trees and we would know it was time to turn for home.  The whole way would laugh and scream and make plans for tomorrow.

A neighbor down the street had a little girl about the same age as me and he had built her a huge playhouse.  It had a kitchen and a second story with a balcony.  Many nights were spent sleeping on that balcony under a huge pepper tree with the crickets chirping around us.  They didn’t live there for very long and she moved away before I entered 1st grade.

I didn’t know just how spoiled I was when it came to produce until I moved out as an adult.  Growing up we had so much food growing on our property, and I never knew that this wasn’t the way everyone else lived.  The whole back fence was covered in grapevines.  I remember many summers when my mother and I ate so many grapes we made ourselves sick.  We had one of each: peach, pear, apple, apricot, cherry, macadamia nut, pecan and Asian pear. Every year we planted a garden and my father and I would tend to it.  Tomatoes and banana peppers were a staple.

Tomato horn worms were a big problem and bug spray just didn’t seem to be very effective.  My father taught me how to hunt for them; how to find the holes in the leaves, follow the trail of scat and discover that fat green worm hidden under the leaves.  Once we found him, we’d clip him in half with the pruning shears and leave him for the ants.  Sounds horrid, I know.  But I didn’t think so then and my kids don’t now.  It was an awesome version of the good guys against the bad guys.  If only everything could have stayed this simple.

Embarking on a New Journey

It came to mind the other day, that I have yet to share my story with others.

A few years ago, I started Celebrate Recovery for my anger issues and learned a lot about myself in the process.  There is something called a ‘testimony’ in which others share their life stories to bring hope to others.  Testimonies bring hope to others in so many ways.  The story we share with each other lets us know that we are not alone, there are others who have experienced hardship and pain.  It lets us know that we are not alone in the destructive path we took in an effort to cope with our hurts, habits and hang ups.  It lets us know that there is hope because others, like us, have found freedom from a life of shame and brokenness, so there must be a way for us to get that too.

I have never had an opportunity to share that testimony and I have been looking for a reason to blog on a more regular basis. It dawned on me just a few days ago that this would be the perfect place to share my story.

I want to share my story not because I think it is anything amazing or so unique that no one else has been through what I have been through.  I want to share my story because I know that I am not the only one to experience the pain and hardships I did.  I want to share my story because there might be someone out there who needs to hear it and know that there can be hope and healing despite any choices they may have made.   I want to share my story because if I can bring hope to even one person, then my pain is turned into something beautiful.  I want to share my story because I know I can grow and learn more about myself through the process. Sharing my story breaks the chains of bondage that the enemy has tried to entangle me with.

It’ll probably be messy and might not make a whole lot of sense.  I am going to try and do one a week and go in chronological order because that seems the easiest way to organize my thoughts. 

I am going to place my disclaimer here to any family or friends that may be reading this.  While I must keep others hearts into account when I share my message, I can in no way falsify or minimize my own pain.  I will share honestly, openly, and transparently about how my life was perceived through my own eyes.  There will be times in which my adult self will add reflections and realizations I have had on my childhood experiences.  But for my story to ring true, for my chains to be broken, for the light of hope to pierce others, I must not hold back for fear of making others uncomfortable with my candidacy.  Please try to keep in mind as you read that I can in no way change my memories.  I have a certain perception of instances and my perception of those instances is what has shaped my hurts, habits and hang ups.  To deny them because someone else may not view them as true does not allow for healing to take place.

Share as you see fit.  If you read these pages and think that it would touch someone else, do not hesitate to send it to them. 
I will end this and begin each blog with the same introduction. 

Hi!  My name is Shauna and I am an Overcomer in Christ.  I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  I am a survivor of physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse in a previous marriage.  I am an overcomer of food addiction, love and relationship addiction, rage and anger mismanagement, kleptomania, co-dependency and people pleasing. 

And this is MY story.