Category Archives: Back to the Past

34. No Approval…ever

 

I am happily married now and things are going wonderfully.  We continue to entertain frequently and my parents were always at these get togethers.  My drinking is beginning to escalate at this point in my life for what seems to be no other reason than having a good time. (This is what I believed at the time)

In the last several months, my daughters have run for our local teen pageants and I was coerced to run for Mrs. Hawaii.  These were fun, yet time consuming events.  These state run pageants require one to obtain “sponsors” or donations from sponsors that help with the expenses of being involved in a pageant.  We did get many sponsors and many of our friends bought tickets to the big final event.  My parents weren’t one of them.  The explanation that was given to us was that they had no interest in coming to these events as they thought it was a way for us to “show off”.  My Dad also said that he thought it was a waste of time.  I guess I wasn’t surprised.  I was the only contestant who’s parents were not there and my daughter’s were the only ones who’s grandparents were not present.  They also did not come for my daughter’s high school graduation.  I guess they thought this was a waste of time too.

My sister was still living in Alaska at this time and we spoke every once in a while.  I had not seen her for about 6 years so I was excited to learn that she was coming to Hawaii for a vacation with her guy friend.  She didn’t tell my parents that she was going to be coming because we thought we would surprise them once she got here.  Once my sis was settled in, we made a schedule of her daily events and one of the events that we planned was to have a get together of some of our childhood friends and our parents.  My sister was excited to give my folks a call to tell them that she was here and that we were having a get together.  I heard my sis on the phone talking to my Mom and then she became quite.  I looked over to see that she was no longer on the phone and was now crying.  She was crying because my Mom had told her that she did not want to see her because it would make her feel “funny”.  It was no secret that our Mom had been against my sister’s “lifestyle”.  Her lifestyle being that she had found a boyfriend on an online chat room.  I let my sister cry for a bit and then I realized that I had been rejected in a similar manner by my parents all these years but somehow witnessing this happen to my sister really hit me hard.  It was almost as if I had learned to accept that my parents would reject me automatically  but seeing them reject my sister really brought it home for me.  It was at that moment that I decided…or rather…knew that my sis and I had never been considered their daughters.  That all these years of me trying to get their love and approval had been a big waste of time.  At that moment, I knew that I didn’t want to try anymore. 

Something happened to my heart that day.  It wasn’t anger but more of a deep inner resolve that I had done all I could do and I would try no more.  I was done.  I saw at that moment how much I had tried in vain to get them to love us and see that we were worthy of them having adopted us.  I also felt that I no longer “owed” them anything.  From the time sis and I were able to understand, they had told us how lucky we were to have been adopted.  That if it had not been for them, we would still be starving and probably living on the streets of Korea somewhere.  They honestly believed that because of their noble actions of adopting two lost wayward, homeless girls, that sis and I should feel “beholden” to them.  

All my anger, frustration, sadness, feelings of inadequacy and feeling “less than”…disappeared at that very moment.  

Some time prior to this, my parents had asked my husband and I to be their “Power of attorney’s” for when their time came and I had agreed.  After this last incident with my folks and my sister,  I did not call them for a year and a half.  In the past when there had been some sort of disagreement or falling out, I was always the one to reach out to them.  They never, ever called me.  I knew that they would not call me and I also knew that I was done trying to reach out to them… I’d probably never speak to them again and I was ok with that.  

 

Several months had gone by and I received an email from my Dad saying that I had been “released” as their POA and that they had asked my paternal cousin “S” to take over the responsibilities.  I had actually forgotten my prior obligation to them and I was relieved that they had found someone else.  If you haven’t figured them out by now, they did not release me as POA because they thought that I wouldn’t fulfill my role, (because I would have)…they released me to continue to try and make a point…that they didn’t need me and I could just be pushed aside and discarded as they had always done.  Dad had also signed off on that email with his first and last name instead of -Dad-.  I refused to be a part of their sick, twisted games of calling them back and trying to get back in their good graces.  My email response back to them was that I was sure that my cousin S had their best interest at heart and that she would make an excellent POA.

My sis and I continued to correspond and she called me to let me know that my Dad had been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.  The primary emotion I felt at that time was that I knew he had a long road ahead of him and in my mind, any type of cancer is awful but the inability to breath with lung cancer has got to be one of the worst.  In the meantime, my cousin (the POA) called me from Minnesota where she lives and told me that she would be coming to the Islands to work out all the details for my Dad.  She asked me if I wanted to be involved with any of these details and I told her that I did not.  Up until that point, my folks had told all of our relatives what bad daughters we had turned out to be.  That we had no gratitude for having been adopted.  “S” had no idea what the truth had really been all these years.  I did not feel like explaining everything to “S” and so when I told her that I had no interest in being a part of my Dad’s battle with cancer, I’m sure what she had been told by my folks was confirmed with my attitude.  All “S” knew was that my parents had struggled with us girls all these years.  It was not the time to explain anything to “S” about it.

I was continuing to drink and loving every moment of it.  I was what some people would call a “functional alcoholic”.  I would look forward to coming home at the end of the work day to have my glass…or several glasses of wine but I was beginning to prefer vodka.  It got me there quicker.  It got me quicker to that place of happy feelings…that electric energy feeling one gets with drinking alcohol.  Sometimes I would drink on my way home from work in the car.  Heck, why not?  After all, traffic here is bad and it takes over an hour and a half to drive 25 miles.  I was able to keep this behavior a secret from my husband for quite a while.  I would drink in the car, feel relaxed, then share a bottle of wine with my husband.  After we both had that first glass of wine from our shared bottle, he couldn’t figure out how and why I had gotten so plastered from just one glass.  I told myself during my drinking career that after everything I had been through in my miserable life, I deserved to relax the way I wanted to at the end of each day.  I wanted to just drink, then go to sleep.  I did not want to deal with any of the issues that lay deep within me.  I told myself that I drank because I immensely disliked my stepdaughter.  I also disliked her Father whom I felt was spoiling her.  It seemed to me that there was such a lack of discipline.  I remember asking myself distinctly, “why the hell should -she- have a loving, doting Father who would do anything for her when I didn’t?  Who the heck does she think she is?”  I swirled this question around in my head for quite a few weeks until I realized that her relationship with her Dad was a normal one…and that it was such a major contrast to the relationship I had with my Dad.  I hated that fact.  This was the first inkling of the deeper issues that lied beneath me.

I was going about my day and getting my daily exercise and thinking to myself that I would do whatever I could to stay looking young.  I had become a certified laser technician after my nursing career and have had some laser treatments done on my face in the past.  I was contemplating having more work done when a little voice inside my head said: “That’s great!…what are you going to do for your insides?”  At the time, I did not know where that voice was coming from but it was soft, firm and very loving.  It was more of a powerful suggestion than any kind of demand.  Shortly after this little voice, I made up my mind to heal.  I didn’t know how this was going to happen but knew that quitting the drink would be the first step to my healing process.

Off to rehab I went…

…continued

33. My New Solution

 

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Life was pretty calm for me at this time without all the drama that comes with tumultuous relationships.  My girls and I are keeping busy and have a pretty busy schedule.  I continue to run daily and loved being out there pounding the pavement while listening to music.  This was my time to myself where I could dream, imagine and let myself wander where ever I wanted to go.  I always felt uplifted at the end of each run and after my runs, I would have my wine.

Over the next few years, I would help out 2 of my girlfriends who had relationship issues.  One of them actually uprooted her life and moved to Vegas to be with her boyfriend who had promised her that if she did this, they’d get married.  She called me in hysterics and and tears from Vegas to say that her boyfriend had changed his mind.  I convinced her to come back here and stay with me for awhile until she got things sorted out.  She ended up living with me for 8 months and it was like a party every night.  She was a runner as well so we’d often run together, then share a bottle of wine…or two.  The other girlfriend that lived with me at a later time was also a wine drinker.  By now, I was drinking about three quarters of a bottle by myself but never felt like I was getting drunk.

My parents would still come over for dinners frequently and I found that I could actually tolerate their presence better if I drank.  When I say “tolerate them”, I guess I mean I could tolerate MY emotions better when they were around.  The alcohol made me feel “OK” about myself.  I wasn’t so worried about whether I was doing things right in their eyes or saying the right thing.  I almost even liked them when I drank…almost.  On several occasions, I would call my folks when I was on my third glass of wine and start expressing my feelings to them.  I would bring up my past memories of an event that took place to try and convince them that they were twisted parents.  This never went over well.  I brought up the incident when my Mom came down the hall to my room, brandishing a kitchen knife.  They always had me on speaker phone when I called and I could hear my Mom in the background saying that I was crazy and Dad would blurt out that I must be drunk.  “You must be drinking again!”  Maybe I was…a little…but it sure felt good to just say what was on my heart.  Wow, how good my Dad was to turn the problem around and make me the drunken fool who was speaking nonsense followed by me yelling at them telling them that THEY were the crazy ones.  Phone calls like this with me slamming the phone happened several times over the following years.  This behavior of mine never solved anything.  The next day I would remember my phone calls to them… my anger…and their denial.  Their denial would add to my already growing sense of anger towards them.  Once in a great while however, I would call them and have nice conversations.  At the end of these phone calls, I would tell them that I loved them, only to have absolute silence on the other end…They never said I love you back but I had never heard it growing up either so this was really no different.  It felt nice to be able to say it to them.  Alcohol had now become my new solution for solving some of my pent up emotions…I liked the way it tasted and especially the way it made me feel.  If I was angry before I drank, I got angrier with each glass.  If I was happy before I drank, I became the happiest person ever.

Now several years have gone by and I have met a wonderful man (R).  He was kind, gentle, handsome, funny as heck and most importantly, he liked my daughters…and my daughters liked him as well.  He made me laugh a lot and it felt like I hadn’t laughed like that ever.  He had a way with taking common everyday situations and seeing the comedy in it all.  He works for the airlines and these airline folk like to party!  I was having so much fun.  I wanted my parents to meet him so I arranged a dinner at my place again.  The folks came over and Dad was courteous enough but Mom completely snubbed him.  She had told me in an earlier conversation that R would probably end up leaving me…that these airline guys have girlfriends in every city they fly to.  Hmm…this did raise a little skepticism in my mind.  After all, I had not had any success in finding an honest, decent man in the past. 

As it turned out, I had many “trust” issues with my new man.  Things would happen and I would questions his loyalty.  He would receive a phone call on his cell, hang up and tell me that it was the wrong number.  I wouldn’t believe him.  I began to have thoughts that maybe his “other girlfriend, or girlfriends” were calling him but because he was with me at that moment, he’d just hang up.  If I wasn’t able to get in touch with him when he flew to another city, my imagination would get the better of me…and believe me, I had a very vivid imagination!  Finally one day R gently told me that he was not like the other men that I had had relationships with…that I had a choice to make:  I had to choose to trust him or not and if I didn’t trust him, this relationship wouldn’t work.  I knew at that point that I wanted to be with him and that I had to trust him.  After all, he had shown me nothing other than love, respect, sincerity and loyalty.  I had absolutely no reason NOT to trust him.  Especially with the nature of his work that required him to leave frequently, remaining distrustful would have eventually taken over my life.

Our relationship started to get serious and we talked about marriage.  He had never been married before and because I had, we weren’t in any rush.  He proposed with a gorgeous ring and I wanted to show my folks.  I again arranged for a dinner at my place and had the folks over.  Dad got along well with R but Mom continued to snub him.  Half the evening went by and Mom hadn’t asked to see my engagement ring so I finally just showed it to her.  A quick glance at my ring followed by changing the subject was all I got.  “What the heck is wrong with her?” I thought…but I guess it didn’t bother me too much…after all, R and I were sharing a bottle of wine and I was not feeling any upset about anything.  Later that evening, R asked me if my Mom was upset with him or something.  I didn’t know what to tell him…

I barely had any savings before we got married and because it’s customary for the bride’s side of the family to pay for most of the wedding, I thought it appropriate to ask my folks to chip in.  My parents knew I had no money and that I had stopped receiving child support several years ago.  I asked my Dad over the phone to help out and I told him maybe $1500.00 would be nice.  He didn’t respond and I didn’t expect anything but at least I felt brave enough to ask!  The next day at work, he came by and handed me a check.  I was floored. Hey!  if you don’t ask, you don’t get right?

We had a very nice wedding and Dad gave me away.  I had originally asked my Uncle J to take that role but because Uncle J knew that my parents and I were talking again, he said he thought it would be wrong for him to do so…reluctantly, I gave that role to my Dad.  Mom ignored me the whole time at my wedding but I was having such a great time, it didn’t really phase me much.  

My husband helped to show me how I could believe in and trust myself.  He made me believe that I was a very loving person by showing me his love for me.  My trust in him and myself began to grow.

I maintained contact with my folks and we often invited them over to our house for dinners.  We liked to entertain so we would have many get togethers with sometimes up to 40 people.  My Dad enjoyed these get togethers with our friends and liked to socialize with them.  He got along well with everybody.  By now, Mom had warmed up to R and had no problem talking to him.  On some holidays and birthdays, we would take my folks out to very nice restaurants.  I wanted to show them how far I had come…how hard I had worked to get to this place in my life…a new man, a wonderful home, beautiful daughters, good skill/job.  In the back of my mind, I wanted to hear them tell me how they were proud of me.  I would never hear it.  (In the 10 years of marriage, R and I have never been invited over to dinner at my folks place…never taken out to dinner where our dinner was paid for).

New and exciting things were happening in my life now.  I continued to want to share these moments with my parents.  I still wanted their approval…

…continued

32. Something Emerging

 

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After the end of the last exhausting relationship, I started to understand what the attraction was to the two men I had been involved with in the past.  My ex-husband BK was a lot like my Mom. He was cold, mean, selfish and cruel.  He would often say things to me that cut me to the quick, using hurtful experiences from my childhood and throw it back at me like; “You’re just a stupid immigrant with emotional problems… you’re Mom was right about you…I don’t know why they adopted you”.  I think for awhile, his brutal words were very “familiar” to me.  I understood this language of his…I had heard it’s tone many times before…from my Mom.  I started asking myself if I thought a marriage should be cold and self serving and concluded that it should not.  Even with those beginning thoughts, I still had to convince myself that I could actually move on and survive on my own. (Read the last blog-Journey Backwards-24)

I know now that my head and heart alone did not have the strength to leave him…it was my “deeper self, or Higher self” that in some magical way made me realize that I was a much better person than BK was making me out to be.  Because I listened to that quiet Higher voice, I was eventually able to leave.  With the Doctor man however, it was more difficult.  The relationship was insidious, in that, he was saying all the right things!  Aside from his chronic cheating and lying, his loving words always contradicted his behavior but those words were important to me at the time and I’d fall back into believing his words all over again.  For someone like me who had not been used to being told any loving words in the past, it was so easy to believe him…or want to believe him.  This relationship was harder for me to let go of because of the “appearance” of it.  Because I could see that his words were kind, I hung on for awhile. I could overlook the rest of his sociopathic behavior.  I had put him on a pedestal and idealized him.  Eventually, his actions began to shout at me louder than his words.  As I mentioned in the last blog, my head knew that this relationship needed to end but my heart wasn’t  getting the memo…My girlfriends and my sister were telling me to get out!  It’s always so much clearer for the observer to see the obvious isn’t it?  It was only until I decided to let go, that my heart was able to really “feel” the truth of this relationship.

So with two bad relationships behind me, I was feeling a little better about myself.  I was still seeing my therapist (Dr. G) about my parents.  I just didn’t know how to reach my folks.  How could I convince my parents that I was a good daughter…that I was worth loving.  I spent many sessions with my therapist trying to come up with ways on how I could do this.  For the first year or so of counseling, I spend much time just expressing how I felt growing up.  I had discussed the nature of my relationships with the men in my life as well and he seemed to think that I could work through the issues I had with my parents in the same way that I had with these men.  Today, I understand what Dr. G meant, he meant to let go of the idea of ever getting my parent’s approval.  (Just as I had let go of the idea that these men were ever going to be other than what they were) but what I couldn’t fathom was the fact that I assumed the bond and love that a parent feels towards their children is natural, and automatic…that all parents should automatically love their children…so when this wasn’t happening between my parents and myself, I assumed that I was “unloveable”.  That I was tainted somehow.  I needed to find a way to fix this.

As a young adult and single Mom on a tight budget, I still made it a point to invite my folks over for home cooked meals.  I would make sure that aside from the “meat and potatoes” meals that Dad liked, I’d have some Japanese side dish prepared for Mom.  She always took the leftovers.

Up until my oldest daughter was about 14, my folks would come to their soccer games.  Both my daughters played soccer every weekend and I would call the folks a day before the weekend games to let them know when and where the games were.  My Dad seemed to enjoy watching the games but I don’t think Mom really understood what was going on.  

Back then I was not dating anyone and I was keeping busy with work and the girls.  We had a daily routine:  After school, my daughters would play outside for a bit while I would go for a run around our neighborhood…then homework, baths, dinner, then bed.  I would always have my glass and a half of wine with dinner.   

By now, BK had stopped coming by to pick up the girls on the weekends.  He wasn’t even calling much anymore.  There was an incident when he had come by the house to pick up the girls and his eyes looked funny and his speech was off.  Was he drunk?  It seemed different than just alcohol intoxication…this was something else.  The agreement was that as long as he called me ahead of time, he could pick up the girls if we didn’t have plans but on this particular day, he just showed up…drunk or stoned or both.  I wasn’t about to release my girls to his care.  He became angry when I shut the door on him.  He blurted out a cuss word and shortly afterwards, the police arrived.  BK called them and told them that I wouldn’t release the girls for his visitation.  The officers could see that BK wasn’t all there, told BK there was nothing they could do so he left.  Shortly after this incident, I stopped receiving child support.  I didn’t see much point in pursuing it as I found out that BK had gotten fired from his job, lost the apartment and was now living on the streets.  It looked like at this point that my daughters were going to grow up without a Father…I was both Mother and Father and raised them with a strict, disciplined yet loving hand.

Every once in awhile, I would get the “mucks”.  The intense fear would come on and I would do anything to distract myself.  It usually didn’t last for more than a day but in the rare occasion that it would, I found myself feeling depressed as well.  I still didn’t understand what this was.  It just didn’t seem connected to anything that was going on in my life at the time.  Dr. G told me that he thought like it sounded like PTSD.  I didn’t like to talk to him or anyone else about it because a part of me felt that by discussing it, I was giving it strength.  This is how it was for years.  I had gotten used to “managing” the fear somehow.  I would ask myself why I was still having these fears but I didn’t want to go much deeper than that.  As far as I was concerned, these scary feelings were “outside” of me and not happening within me.  What I mean to say is that I was still convinced that I was being attacked somehow by some outside, unseen force.  I would tell myself that for years.  

In the following years, I would be dealing with resolving the issue with my parents…and looking at this fear…

…continued

31. Journey Backwards-Catalyst

 

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Post divorce, I’m on a new path now with a new man who paid attention to me.  It appeared that in his eyes, I could do no wrong and he was always quick to compliment me on everything I did.  I worked with this man and so I saw him everyday at the clinic.  He was the surgeon who shared the clinic with the gastroenterologist and for awhile, I was employed by both.  

With my dysfunctional, dissolved marriage behind me and a new man in my life, I thought I was happy.  I had bought a new little town house, I kept busy with my daughters with their soccer practice 3 times a week and games on the weekends.  When we weren’t at the soccer games, we were at the beach.  BK was picking up the girls about every other weekend so this gave me free time to be with my man.

Things started getting strange with this relationship.  I knew it couldn’t have just been paranoia because I sensed very strongly that he was cheating on me and I wasn’t as quick to ignore the signs as I was with my ex husband.  This Doctor man was treating me worse than my ex husband ever had.  I will skip many of the details of that relationship because it is pretty typical of the type of relationship where the woman always takes the man back after she finds out that he had been cheating on her.  This off and on relationship went on for 5 years.  The jist of it was that he would always break up with me because he had found someone else.  The weird thing was that he would never stop calling me when he was with the other woman.  I saw him every day at work and this made it much easier for him to manipulate me into taking him back.  My head would tell me that taking him back was a mistake but my irrational heart would always win…so it continued on for much longer than an emotionally stable woman would have allowed it to.

There came a time when I could no longer deny the sickness of this relationship to continue.  My prayers about this relationship had always been for God to please help to make this man love me.  To help me to be desirable enough for this man to only want to be with me.  At this time in the relationship, I had been “dumped” once again because he had found someone else and once again, I fell to my knees to have that prayer again.  Only this time, instead of praying for the relationship to work, I prayed earnestly to help me to let it go.  I knew there was going to be the time when he would ask me to take him back again and I wanted to make sure that my heart would be in the same place as my head.  I prayed and cried and something inside me knew that this was the very last time that I would be shedding any tears for him.  It’s as if something “clicked” on inside me.

Of course he did ask me to take him back trying to convince me that he was no longer seeing this or any other woman.  His usual tactics of flowers, hotel stays, convincing wails of the “I miss you’s” and fake tears, no longer worked on me.  He had played all those cards… and the only card he had not played was the marriage card.  The thing is, if he had proposed to me anytime sooner, I would have accepted.  That became a very scary thought for me.  I knew without a doubt that I no longer wanted any type of relationship with him.  My head and heart were finally matching up.  I would be lying if I told you that I no longer had any feelings for him though.  This was the type of relationship where the lows very extremely low and when we would get back together, the highs were very high.  It was a passionate relationship in that sense and I had become addicted to the highs but could no longer take the lows.  Somewhere in this process of finding strength within myself, I told myself that from then on, I would never, ever allow any man (or person) to hurt me again.

This was the start of my self discovery.  I began to believe that I was a strong person.  It wasn’t easy, but I realized that I had been through a lot.  I just want to add that after his last attempt to get me to take him back, seeing him everyday at work was difficult but I think whatever strength I had in me helped me to hold my head up high in his presence.  I never let on that I was still hurting inside.  I had faith that the strength would come little by little everyday as I let him go and it did.  

What I learned about myself at that time was that there was a hidden strength within me that I didn’t know existed…I just needed to “tap into it”.

The relationships with the men in my life and the pains that it caused helped me to become stronger in this facet of my life.  These men who were in my life were catalysts in helping me find out who I really was.  I realized that I didn’t need a man to fulfill me or make me happy.  I could be happy with just spending time with my daughters or spending time alone.  Of course I noticed something new was beginning to happen to me…I began having a voice…an opinion…about things in general.

How would I now “tap into” the strength lying deep within me to manifest into the other facets of my life.  There was so much to do.  In many respects, I still felt scared in other areas of my life.  It still felt like I had a lot of “letting go” to do.

Questions began to arise in my mind…again.  The same questions that I had as a young girl with abusive parents.  Questions like; “why am I here”, “who am I REALLY?”, ‘why was I experiencing such pain”?.  There would be many more experiences that would gently push me in the direction that I needed to go to help me discover who I really was… 

…continued

30. Journey Backwards-New Beginning

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I’ve let BK know that I was going to search for my own place in the upcoming weekend.  I set out and began looking on my own with my 5 year old and baby N.

After looking at several places, I found a cute 2 bedroom apartment with a community pool.  What I could afford at the time lead me to some shabby places and this place was no exception but it would have to do.  Across the street was a grocery store.  My daughter K got excited when she saw this apartment so I thought to myself, “this is it”.

I started packing up my belongings, the girls toys and clothes.  I took a pot, a pan and some utensils.  I threw our pillows into the car along with a red bean bag chair and off we went. I figured I would go back later and pick up more things.  We had two T.V.s so I could get it later but for now, only the basic necessities could fit in my car.

K was excited to swim at the pool so we spend a lot of time at the pool on that first day.  I made dinner and we sat on the floor eating our meal.  We all cuddled up in the living room on our pillows and bean bag chair that first night.  I felt such a sense of relief.  I remember sleeping so well that first night in our little apartment.  Although I had nothing in terms of furniture, I had freedom.  There was such a sense of relief, as if a burden had been lifted off of me.  I knew in that moment that I had made the right decision and truly believed that everything would be ok.

The next day I went back to gather more things and thought that I would take one of the televisions we had.  BK was at home and when I told him I was going to take the T.V., he said I couldn’t have it.  “What are the girls supposed to do BK?…stare at the four walls?”  He told me that it was MY decision to leave and I’d just have to deal with it.  I also noticed his wedding band was sitting on the coffee table.  It was such a clear message to me that he was over it and as I walked out the door, he said, “you know, you’re never going to find anyone like me.”  I remember thinking to myself, “God, I hope not!”

As time went by, I was able to purchase furniture for our new beginning.  A dining set that was on sale.  A bed for myself, (all three of us slept on this for awhile) a couch and finally, a T.V.!  I loved decorating this apartment.  We had all we needed.  The weekends were filled with pool time for the girls.  My girlfriends would come over with their little ones and we’d have a blast.  Life was good.  I felt good.

The girls slept with me on our only bed until I could buy them their own beds.  My Mom told me that I could take the beds that sis and I had used.  I thought it was nice of her to let me have them until she told me that I had to buy them off of her.  They were almost 30 years old!  Of course everything in my parents house was in a preserved state and our beds were no exception.  I bought them off of her for $60.00.  This was a lot cheaper than what I was going to find in a bedding store so I might as well take them.  So now the girls shared their bedroom and it was beginning to look more like a little girls bedroom.  The apartment was slowly beginning to look lived in and because I loved decorating, I was always finding ways to mix things up, add a touch of color, hang a nice picture, etc.  I cleaned this little apartment every weekend and it felt warm.  Not in the temperature sense but in the “homey” sense.  I wanted it to be a safe haven for my daughters.

I decided that I would go back and pick up more stuff when I knew BK was at work.  When I went back the next day, BK had changed the locks on the door so I couldn’t get in.  He was a real rat.

I had already told my folks a few days before leaving BK that I was going to find my own place.  My Dad didn’t say much but Mom told me that I would have a very difficult time being a single Mom.  “Who wants a woman with two kids?  How are you going to survive?  You better get back together with BK and be a good wife–Cook his favorite meals every night and be a good wife.”  Um…that wasn’t going to happen.  When I had shared with my Mom that BK had been fooling around our whole marriage, she told me that it was my fault.  He wouldn’t have to if I had been a good wife.  So again, this was my fault because I wasn’t a good person.

I continued to work at the nursing job and I was extremely fortunate to find the day shift.  I dropped my daughters off at day care, picked them up at the end of the day and we spent the evenings together.

One day while I was at work, BK showed up in the late morning and asked me to have lunch with him.  He added that we needed to start doing “family things” together.  What? was he kidding?  I knew that he had received the divorce papers so he knew that this time, I was serious.  I had no desire to have lunch with him and I lied to him telling him that I couldn’t get away.  As he walked out the door, I sensed a deep pity for him in my heart.  At that moment, I knew that in whatever way he was capable, he still loved me and knew that he was losing me for good.

The divorce took much longer than it should have.  We only had the apartment in both our names and the custody issue was a non issue as far as I was concerned.  I knew that the girls would live with me.  He fought for custody however…and lost.  I had uncovered an account that BK had hidden from me and I brought this out in the open in front of my attorney and judge.  There was nothing BK could do to explain his way out of this one.  It was split down the middle.  The apartment was sold and I used the money to buy a small little townhouse for the girls and myself.  The custody battle was a waste of time and effort but it was finally decided that the girls would stay with me.  (This was no surprise for me, I was just glad that it was over.)

I decided that I would be very liberal in the visitation.  As long as BK communicated with me whether he wanted to see his daughters, he was able to pick them up on the weekends.  In the first year, he saw them frequently.  He would pick them up from my apartment and as he drove away, my girls would be waving to me through the back window.  My heart would sink and all I could do was think about them the whole time they were gone.  Of course there were times that I felt like I could really get some rest while they were with their Dad…but mostly, I missed them and wanted them back.

I wanted my girls to have a relationship with their grandparents so I called my folks frequently and we would often get together at my house and I would cook dinner.  I didn’t have a lot but I knew how to cook.  I cooked like how any single Mom cooks: you look in the fridge and see what you’ve got and somehow throw this all together to make a good meal.  You’re not able to recreate this particular meal again because what you made was a combo of left over “stuff”.  I always made sure I packaged some leftovers for my Mom.  My folks would come over every other weekend.

I was a single Mom, working full time and trying to make ends meet.  The courts had determined how much child support I would receive based on BK’s pay at the time.  He quit one job so the child support amount would not be as high…a decision that would later be detrimental for him.  The child support was extremely helpful.  My salary payed for most of our bills, but child support helped to keep food on the table.

I began a new relationship with a man who loved me…at least I THOUGHT it was love…

…continued

29. Journey Backwards-Graduation

 

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Graduation day was here and there was such a sense of relief off my shoulders.  Clinic was done, lecture classes and labs were all done with and finally, all the nerve wracking exams were over!

When I told my folks that I was graduating with honors, there was no “good for you”, or “congratulations”.  Mom did tell me that she was very surprised that I had finished school.  I guess with my past work history, it was understandable that she thought I wouldn’t finish this program either.  For me though, I found something that I really believed I was good at.  I enjoyed nursing tremendously and it gave me such a sense of accomplishment that I had earned a degree in this field.

So the plan on grad day was for me to pick up my parents and BK would come down with little K.  I got to my parents house and my Mom came to the door and she was angry.  (What a surprise).  She was still in her house clothes and she told me she wasn’t going to come to my graduation.  Dad was sitting at the kitchen table but he looked dressed and ready to go.  I asked my Mom “What’s the matter?”  She said she was angry at my Dad.  I didn’t get the details but it had something to do with me…of course.  I looked at my Dad and said, “but this is my graduation and it’s a big deal to me”.  So I drove off to the ceremony by myself.

When it was my time to receive my diploma, I walked past all the guests, family and friends of the graduates and saw that one of my best friends from high school (L) and her parents had come down to celebrate this occasion with me.  BK and little K were there too.  As I walked past them, I saw the twinkle in little K’s eyes and she seemed to be beaming from where she was.  She waved at me as I passed by walking down the hall and said, “Hi Mommy!”  At that moment, I felt happy…happier than I had felt in a long time.  My friend L’s parents told me how proud they were of me.  It was so sweet of them to come.

Nursing boards were up next and I just couldn’t seem to focus on the studies.  I was worried about my failing marriage.  It was just about this time that I found out I was pregnant.  How the heck did that happen?  I wasn’t even aware that I could have possibly been pregnant.  The only way I found out was when I went to the clinic to accompany one of my classmates to take HER pregnancy test.  She had asked me if I could go with her because she was afraid to go alone…so I went with her and went through all the motions as if I was getting a pregnancy test as well.  We had to call the clinic for our results the next dat and it turned out that my girlfriend was pregnant.  I called for my results thinking that it would be negative but the clinician said “congratulations, your test is positive”.  I gave her my birthdate, name and social security number again because I was sure she had made a mistake.  Nope…I was pregnant.  Now what?  With the failing marriage and a new baby on the way, what was I going to do?  Terminating the pregnancy was not an option for me because as I looked over at my daughter K, I couldn’t imagine ending the life of a precious and beautiful child that would look like my daughter K.  BK wasn’t happy.

Things at home got worse.  BK would stay out all night and would often come home with lipstick stains on his shirt.  There were frequent phone calls from other women who would abruptly hang up as I said hello.  I questioned him about this once and all he said was, “so what if I was?” I don’t know if it was the hormone changes that I was going through that made me more emotional but I was in tears a lot.  Mostly about how I was hurting because of BK’s behavior.  One night he had come home drunk (which was frequent) and as he walked past me, I could smell perfume and I noticed he had a hickey on his neck.  What the!…I couldn’t take it anymore.  I had been trying to finish school, take care of a toddler and run the household all the while, he was off goofing around as if he were still single.  I slapped him hard on his shoulder and he turned around and grabbed me by my neck and threw me across the room.  It all happened so fast.  My little girl came running over to me on the floor and said, “Mommy, Mommy, we will go to the house where all the other Mommies go when they get hit.”  How did she know there was a place like that?  She remembers telling me this to this day.

I got a letter stating I had passed my nursing boards and I was ready to find work.  BK told me he didn’t want me to work and that I needed to stay at home and keep the house tidy, take care of his needs, blah, blah, blah.  I found my first nursing job working with a plastic surgeon in town as an O.R. nurse.  I learned and assisted with so many “cosmetic procedures” but this Dr. was an ego maniac.  His nurse prior to me had been working with him for the past 20 years and could anticipate his every move in the O.R. from when to cut the sutures to what instrument to hand him next.  I was just learning and he would become very impatient with me.  “Your hands are too damn big!” he would yell as he slapped them away from his field of vision.  “What would you like me to do with them?” I asked.  He said “never mind sassing back at me and just do what you’re told!”  That’s it!, I thought.  I didn’t put myself through the nursing program to get slapped around.  Heck! I could go home for that!  I scrubbed out and walked past the receptionist and told her that I couldn’t work for this man.  Dr. “Ego” had his receptionist call me several times that day to try and have me come back.  There was no way that I would.

I got another nursing position in the clinic near where I lived and enjoyed it a lot.  I was still very insecure about my ability as a nurse.  I seemed to always be referring back to my notes and books when there was some aspect of nursing care that I didn’t understand.  I felt like I should be better at this and that I shouldn’t have to always look at my notes.  I always wanted to know “why” the Dr. on call would order a particular test, or injection. I would never ask the Dr. but would ask the nurse in charge.  She was a wonderful teacher and she was tremendous in giving me the confidence to be a nurse.  Later I realized that even M.D.’s often refer to their manuals or journals for advice.

I was now working the night shift and BK called me at the clinic one evening and told me that I had to come home right away because my daughter was sick.  I told him that I couldn’t leave and abandon my post or patients.  “She’s YOUR daughter and YOU chose to work so you need to work this out!”  I was in tears.  I couldn’t jeopardize my job but I knew that BK wasn’t caring for her needs.  He was probably sprawled out on the couch watching tv and telling little K to go away.  The unit clerk at the time was so kind and offered to pick up my daughter and bring her to the clinic which she did.  This was such a tremendous help.  I knew my daughter would feel much better knowing that she could be near me.  She stayed in the little cot in one of the rooms and luckily, the shift was not very busy so I was able to check on her frequently.  She would be fine.  Sometimes it’s the “love” in the care that makes them all better right?

My pregnancy was coming along fine and I worked up until it was time to give birth.  We dropped little K off at my parents house and left for the hospital.  The contractions had stopped by the time we reached the hospital but because my water had already broke, baby was definitely coming but it seemed like baby had changed her mind and everything stopped.  This fits my daughter N”s personality perfectly…all excited about something then…she’d stop and go the other way.  The Dr. had me walk back and forth down the hospital corridor to try and get the labor going again.  She finally came and I had the nurse wake up BK.  My birth coach who had been a fellow class mate in nursing school was there to help me so BK was on the chair sleeping the whole time.

It was hard to get any rest after that as people were coming and going to visit.  I was so excited to have my little K meet her baby sister.  “Oh Mommy, she’s so cute…what’s her name again?”  She asked what her sister’s name was for the next couple of days until it finally stuck.  BK did take a few days off from work to stay home.  He complained about staying home stating that he was wasting his time.  Of all the times he would stay home from work in the past, he was always on the couch watching T.V. and yet on this day, he wanted to wash all the windows.  I had been home from the hospital for only 2 days and I was outside washing windows.  I felt so tired and just needed to rest.  Baby N had her days and nights mixed up and I was exhausting caring for my older daughter and making sure all the meals were made.  It turned out I was anemic so the Dr. started me on iron supplements.  This helped a lot in the long run.

I stayed home for about 5 months and decided that it was time for me to go back to work.  Big sis K was in her day care but they don’t take any children who weren’t potty trained so finding child care was difficult.  I had to go through a couple of people before I found one that I could trust.  My parents had made it very clear that they would not watch my daughters and they never have.  I never had them watch little K anyway as the incidents that I had with my Dad in the past were always on my mind and I did not trust him to be with her.  Although she was only a little girl, I wasn’t going to put her in danger.

With both my pregnancies, I had told myself that I would love my children, nurture them and try real hard to never say cruel things to them as they were growing up.  It wasn’t difficult to do…the love just seem to come naturally and it made me even more curious to think that my Mom never had those “natural maternal feelings” towards me when I was growing up…or even when I was an adult.  Perhaps it was because I was adopted?  Or maybe that’s just the way she was?  I would find out later.

I went back to work at the same clinic where I had been working at and at the end of the day, I would be so excited to see my babies.  I realized I hated being home when BK was there and often I would pick up the girls, go home, make dinner and I’d pack up the girls and go for a long drive.  I’d come home only after I knew BK was passed out from drinking.  It got harder and harder for me to push away BK’s advances and I knew that I had to leave…for good.  The thought scared me as I had just started this nursing job and I wondered if I could make it on my own.

BK was drinking every night, either at home or when he was out with the boys.  At this point, I actually preferred that he was out and it didn’t matter to me whether he came home or not.  It seemed that I had no escape when he was there.  He was so demanding.  One night as I was making dinner and the girls were napping, I put on my headset and poured myself a small drink of rum and coke.  I usually didn’t drink alcohol but this drink was very refreshing and it allowed me to be in my own world where BK wasn’t.  He became annoyed at me for singing along with whatever I was listening to on the headset.

By now, I had “avoided” BK as much as I could while I was still married and living with him.  I couldn’t avoid him anymore as long as I was still there so I knew I had to leave.  I told him that I would be looking for my own apartment in the upcoming weekend.  He just said, “whatever”.  I don’t think he actually took me seriously because I had left him twice before only to beg him to take me back twice in the past.  This time it was going to be different…

…continued

28. Journey Backwards-Work, school, home.

 

Hi everyone!

My last blog was about my psych diagnosis and then I jumped ahead about 4 years with the birth of my daughter.  I  wanted to add that in that 4 year period, I did have several moments of the fear and sadness episodes.  Of course as I’ve always done in the past, I would try fight the feelings.  I continued to wonder why I was having them.  What caused me…or what had I caused or done to have these moments where I felt like I was in hell?

In that several year interim before my beautiful daughter was born, I had gone from job to job…either by quitting or being fired.  I believe when I count back, I had 12 jobs in that span of time and had quit all of them after being there for a short period of time.  (Less than 1 year).  Three of those past employers had fired me.  At the time, I hadn’t quit those numerous jobs because I had found something else, but had quit because I felt like I didn’t fit it.  When I say “fit in”, I mean that I distinctly felt as if my co-workers didn’t like me.  I could “sense” them whispering behind my back about me (I never actually heard what was said) and I felt inadequate.  Was I just being paranoid?

I would try really hard to learn the in’s and out’s of each job but I would often think that I understood the task at hand but really didn’t and made many mistakes. If I didn’t know something, I would “fill in the blanks” with what seemed to make sense to me.  There were times when I was not clear on instructions but I didn’t want to appear stupid by asking what seemed to be very simple questions…In the past, it seemed whenever I did have any questions and did ask someone, they would tell me,  “you should know this by now”.  This made me feel even more inadequate.  Perhaps I should have known but the not knowing and the not being able to question often lead me to do the wrong thing.

I remember once I was approached by a model scout in a parking lot of a hotel to become a model at her agency.  I was excited and went to be interviewed by her the following day.  (I had always wanted to try modeling and did have an opportunity while I was living in Japan but it was forbidden to me at the time as I was living in Japan with my maternal relatives solely to help them with their family restaurant.)  The owner of this agency signed me on as a model and during the interview, she found out that I could speak Japanese.  She asked me if I would be willing to work in the office as a clerk when she wasn’t using me as a model.  I decided that I might as well as I had recently quit a job.

It was a typical office job with clerical duties and often other models would come through to pick up any future assignments.  I remember seeing all those beautiful girls and thinking to myself that they were so pretty.  Although many of them didn’t wear makeup when they came by the office, they had flawless skin and carried themselves with such confidence.  I thought to myself that I could never be like them.  I didn’t have what they had and I was never going to be beautiful.

One day my task was to contact about 60 of her models and let them know of a “cattle call” for a Japanese vendor who was looking for girls to do a print ad/commercial for Nike. (A cattle call is when a bunch of models show up for an interview at the same time).  I don’t remember the name of this Japanese company but they were a large account for this agency.  The agency’s owner told me the location of the cattle call and in my head, I thought I knew exactly where this was.  I called all 60 girls to let them know the location and gave them instructions on how to dress and what time to meet.  (Early evening sometime).  After making the phone calls, my day was done and I went home. (Living with BK at the time.)  In the back of my head, I started thinking about the location and it suddenly hit me that where I had instructed all her girls to meet was not the actual location.  Oh oh. It was now about the time that the cattle call was taking place.  This was back before the days of cell phones and there was no way to contact all those girls.  I got home and the phone would not stop ringing as my boss had been calling me.  I chose not to answer the phone.  Instead, I let the phone ring until BK finally answered it.  It was my boss who angrily told him to give me a message that I had made a mistake in the location and to call me back as soon as I could.  I didn’t think that anything good would come from me calling my boss back as I was sure that she was going to fire me anyway.  I never returned to that job…not even to pick up my last paycheck.

This is how it went until the birth of my daughter.  I went from job to job…quitting, or getting fired.  I was sure I was a screw up.  I guess my Mom was right about that…I would never be good at anything.

Now we jump to shortly after my daughter K was born and I was a stay at home Mom.  I loved waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of my baby’s cry.  I would pick her up and put her to my breast and just sit there and stare at her.  Stirring within me were such feelings of deep love that I had never felt before.  She was so precious.  Life was good for the moment.

My parents were a part of our lives then because I had already contacted them when I found out I was pregnant.  Mom was never able to have babies of her own so having an infant grand daughter made her happy.  We would often go to my parents house and spend time with them.  My Mom was warm and gentle towards her granddaughter and little K loved her grandma and grandpa.

The first time I felt the fear within me again was when K was about a two or three years of age. It started with that deep sadness followed by the gripping fear.  It would go back and forth between sadness and fear and I would fight the feeling like I always had.  I thought to myself, “why am I having this again?”  I think in the back of my mind, I had assumed that the birth of my daughter and all the hormone changes would caused the “blacks” from ever happening again.  It been been a while since the last bout, and I hadn’t been thinking about the fear.   After being diagnosed as a schizophrenic, the fear was always “just around the corner” even though I wasn’t really feeling it but I always knew it was just around the corner and could come on at any time.  Often times, just the anticipation was enough to bring it on.

At this time, BK and I had been living in our small two bedroom townhouse that we had purchased.  I was still a stay at home Mom but I started thinking that I needed to have a skill of some sort.  I had a “sense” that I needed to go to school.  I didn’t have a clue as to what I could possibly be good at but I had the desire at the time to learn how to be a “beautician”.  (Today, we call them aestheticians)  I looked into the “beauty” classes but was drawn to the nursing curriculum.  So that’s what I pursued instead.

BK wasn’t thrilled about me going to school because it was an extra expense.  I convinced him that in the long run, it would pay off.  He was insistent that even though I was in school, he still expected the house to be spotless, his meals to be ready when he got home and for me to continue with other “wifely duties”.  My Mom told me that all of this was a waste of time…that I would never finish the nursing program so I shouldn’t even bother.  I remember thinking to myself that I HAD to try.  So off to nursing I went…

I really enjoyed all the aspects of the nursing program and did very well in school.  We would form study groups and I found that many of my fellow students looked to me for answers.  I remember when we were studying about diabetes that many of the students were having a difficult time grasping this disease.  I guess I found a way to help them to understand.

Things at home were not good.  My marriage was falling apart.  I did the best I could but our study groups would often run late into the evening and BK was not happy about this at all.  After a while, BK would just stay out at nights.  I guess he figured there was no sense in him being home because I couldn’t totally focus on him.  I loved the nursing program but I was worried about my marriage.  We were about three quarters through the program and I seriously considered quitting.  There was a catholic priest (student) in our class whom I had confided in at the time about my failing marriage.  I shared with him my thoughts about wanting to quit the program and he gave me the best advice ever.  He said that we were almost near the end and to hang on.  Graduate…then deal with the marriage at that point…but to give up after coming this far was a waste and if I quit the program, I would probably not resume and the worst part of all… I’d be in the same situation I had always been in…no skills and no job.  This was actually the first time I had confided in the clergy for advice on anything other than church doctrine.

We had just began our medical/surgical rotation at a hospital in town and we had to be at the clinic by 6:30 am.  Luckily, the day care where I had been dropping little K off could accommodate these early hours.

So it was time for our final exams and I felt that I was ready.  Results came in the next day and this was when we lost about a quarter of our students.  We had already lost about 10 students since the beginning of the course and the finals would determine who would graduate or not.  We lost 10 more.  We started with 60 students and graduated a little less than 40.

I was graduating with honors in my nursing program and I was excited to tell my parents and my husband!

…continued

 

27. Journey Backwards-Diagnosis

 

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It was the day of my first psychiatric appointment and I was feeling scared and excited all at the same time.  I was scared to “verbalize” to him what I was feeling because I had never really told anyone about what I was really feeling inside in any detail.  I had never explained how I thought it felt like something “outside” was trying to attack me.   The most I would tell my closest friends was that I was anxious and nervous and scared all the time.  I didn’t explain much to my friends because of two reasons: the first reason was because I felt like if I did verbalize what I was really feeling inside, somehow I would bring it to life.  The second reason was because I didn’t want them to think I was crazy.  (I think most of them thought that I was anyway just from the little that I DID tell them).  I decided that if I wanted to get better, I would have to tell my shrink everything and be totally open and honest.

I walked in to his office feeling nervous and began telling him what I was feeling.  I told him about the feeling of oppression and how that oppression “outside of me” was trying to get in…almost like being possessed.  I explained about my traumatic childhood but didn’t really go into great detail about it.  My biggest concern at the time was telling him my scary feelings that I’d been dealing with off and on for years.  As I told him all this, the anxiety didn’t get better or worse.  He sat and listened and asked me questions.  I remember telling him that on a couple of occasions, I thought I had heard a voice “outside my head,” calling my name and that this really scared me.  I also mentioned that I often sensed a presence around me which also scared me.

Dr. S showed me a three sided sculpture that he had in his office.  It must have been a visual tool that he used with his patients.   It was a sculpture of a happy face on one side, a sad face on another and an angry one on the last.  He went on to explain to me that I was like this sculpture with all those faces but unlike a “normal” person, I was not able to integrate or make all those sides work together cohesively.  He also said that the terror I was feeling was only just “the tip of the iceberg” of what was really deep within me.  Also that those feelings would eventually all come out and it was very possible that I could have a psychotic break.  You think I was scared before the appointment?  Now I was terrified.  We talked a bit more but after he told me I’d probably have a breakdown of some sort, I could not hear anything else he was telling me.  My mind could not register what he was saying and the thought of my having a breakdown scared me so much that I felt like I had to fight even harder to not allow any of those feelings to come to the surface.  He handed me a written prescription for two medications that he wanted me to start.  I looked at these rx names and didn’t know what they were (Mellaril and Lithium–used for schizophrenia) but I trusted (at the time) that he was the M.D. and I would do as I was told.  I had heard about schizophrenia and all I knew at the time was that these people were crazy…and now he was telling me that I was one of them.

I went to the nearby drugstore which is located inside a busy shopping mall.  I remember waiting for my rx to be filled and “hanging on by the skin of my teeth” to whatever sanity I had left.  It took forever for my name to be called.  I was anxious to start taking the meds and get cured.  Again I imagined that I would lose all touch with reality.  I imagined that I’d start yelling and screaming and flailing my arms about like a stark raving mad lunatic! Then the 911 guys would have to tie me up in a straight jacket and haul me off to the land of the crazies.  It felt like these scary and crazy thoughts in my head were telling me that this is what was going to happen to me and I believed them.

I started on the medications as I was told and I want to say that I stayed on them for about 10 days.  One evening my boyfriend and I were out at some nightclub with some friends and I didn’t drink at the time so I sat there watching everyone else have a good time.  I was numb.  I felt dead inside and I think I was even drooling.  I wiped the spittle running down the side of my mouth and I’m not sure what I looked like to other people but I felt like I was sitting there drooling with droopy eyes and feeling like a zombie.  I stayed on that medication for awhile but again…something deep within me told me that if I wanted to solve any mental/emotional issues I had, I’d have to be “alert” to do so.  I stopped taking the medications and never went back to see this psychiatrist again.  His diagnosis scared me too much.  I didn’t think or ask myself how I was going to “fix” this problem.  I think a part of me thought to myself that I would continue to “fight it”…whatever that meant.

It was right at this time that I discovered I was pregnant.  I had no contact with my folks, my boyfriend BK wasn’t really understanding what was happening to me and now I was this crazy person, possibly having some sort of psychotic breakdown and I was pregnant.  I really relied on Aunt S and Uncle J at this time in my life.  We would sit up and talk for long periods of time and it was only during these talks with them that I would have any sense of calm or inner peace.  With their coaching, love and understanding, I decided that I could not go on with the pregnancy.  I could barely take care of what was going on in my mind let alone raising another little human being.  Aunt S came with me to the hospital to terminate the pregnancy.  I think I did ok for the next few days after the procedure.  A lot of crying and guilt was coming up to the surface but I told myself that I would deal with the guilt “later.”  I knew at the time that I had made the right decision but it was still difficult for me.

I ended all contact with the Christian church that I was affiliated with at the time because they had already told me that I was a “sinner” who chose to “live in sin”.  I highly doubted that they were going to have any comforting words for me with the latest event.  I didn’t need anymore guilt placed on me.

Life went on.  I had discontinued the medications so I was feeling everything.  There were moments of peace which to me was the light at the end of the tunnel.  I clung to these moments like a drowning person would to a life raft.  Having these glimpses of peace and light convinced me that I would be ok.  Sometimes instead of the intense terror and fear, I would be filled with just an incredible sadness.  It would consume me and although I would never show it to anyone, it was as if black clouds were swirling in and around me.  I would want to cry at these moments but found that I couldn’t cry.  It felt “stuck” inside me…all I could do was wait for these feelings to pass.  Between the extreme sadness and intense terror, I seemed to be able to deal with the sadness better than the fear.

As the years went by, these feelings would come and go and every time it came, I would ask myself “why?”  Why was I battling these demons and what did they want with me?

In the meantime, BK and I were living together but he wasn’t treating me very nice.  He was selfish and mean.  He would tell me that I was an immigrant with an emotional problem.  A well adjusted person would have left someone like that along time ago…but I was far from being well adjusted.  As far as I was concerned, the verbal and emotional abuse I got from him was very much what I was used to from my childhood.  I knew it wasn’t right but hey, I had a boyfriend who loved me right?—and I loved him.

My Uncle J and Aunt S didn’t like BK.  They were gentle in their way of telling me though.  Uncle J told me that I deserved so much better.  What did he mean by that?  The deeper part of my being understood what he meant but how do I go from where I had been emotionally all those years to that place where Uncle J said I was?  I had no self worth.  Often when BK and I would have another argument, I would pack my bags to leave him, only to be begging him to take me back a few days later.  I did this twice and the second time, I guess BK decided that he wasn’t going to make it easy for me.  Each time we broke up, I would move in with the “Spads.”  (They were our neighbors when sis and I were growing up and sis and I stayed with them when our parents went to Europe one summer).

Mr. Spads was an air force colonel and he talked me into looking at joining the air force.  He made it sound like such an adventure.  I took the physical, the written exam and it was determined that I would work towards becoming an airplane mechanic.  A lot of paper work was processed by my recruiter and I had my plane ticket to go off to boot camp in about 3 months.  This whole time however, I was still calling on my boyfriend and trying desperately to have him take me back.  One day BK and I were together and it happened…I got pregnant…again.  I knew what I was doing.  I knew there was a possibility that I would get pregnant.  I was hoping that I would be…because then he’d have to take me back right?  This whole thing about the air force…I’d deal with that later.  A pregnancy test a little while later confirmed that I was indeed pregnant.  I called my recruiter and told him the latest exciting news!  He wasn’t happy for me.  He’d have to undo all the paper work and I’d be out.  I tried to convince him that I could go to boot camp in the early part of my pregnancy and I promised that I wouldn’t tell anyone of my predicament.  I really meant this and I was determined to go to training no matter what.  My planning didn’t go beyond that.  I was “unprocessed” from the military.

BK didn’t want me to have the baby and I told him that I could not go through with another termination.  I knew I couldn’t.  I would keep the baby and told him that I would do this with or without him.  Secretly though, I was hoping that he would want to stay with me…maybe even marry me!

So now I’m about 4 months along and I decided to call my parents to tell them.  They weren’t happy for me but I started going around their house again.  Dad convinced BK that he should marry me so that baby would have a name.  Yeah Dad!  You tell him!  I wanted a church wedding and a nice reception and a happy ending to this story!  I would finally be settled down with the man that I loved who treated me so badly and I’d have a baby of my own.

I had quit my job at the hotel by now and BK and I got married during my 5th month.  It was a civil wedding with only a small get together afterwards with Mom, Dad and sis.  Going up to the escalator at the courthouse, I caught BK gawking at one of the pretty girls working downstairs and she was gawking back.  I felt a pang in my stomach.  There were about 20 other couples waiting in line to get hitched.  We waited until our number was called and stood in front of the judge to say a few “I do’s”.  It was quick and now I was married!  I thought I was so happy.  Our family went out afterwards and had a nice steak dinner.  Through dinner however, my stomach was doing some serious twists and turns.  I couldn’t finish my meal and kept running to the bathroom.  After dinner we all went back to our rundown apartment for coffee.  I was feeling miserable by now.  My Mom came in the bedroom and told me to stop ruining the evening.  “What’s long wit you! You ruin eburyting!”   Sheesh, it wasn’t as if I was trying to…

BK’s parents moved to the Islands from Japan to be closer to their soon to be grand child.  My Mother in law wasn’t totally convinced that her son was the Father of my child…a question she posed to him many times.  He never doubted that he was the Father probably because he understood how much I loved him and that I had no desire to be with anyone else.  He was right about that.

So little “K” was born.  She was perfect in every way.  My life began to change.  I didn’t work for the next 4 years.  BK and I had purchased a very small town house and I played good housewife and Mother.  BK continued to work at his hotel job as a bellman which is where he had been working for the past 10 years.  I loved my little girl with all my heart and I was happy for the time being…

I didn’t have any scary episodes for awhile now until…

…continued

26. Journey Backwards-On the brink of breaking

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I’m now about 19 years old and had been living on my own since returning from my stay in Japan for a year and a half.  I have my own run down apartment, full time job at the Japanese tour company and I have a boyfriend that I met through work.  (BK).  I didn’t like staying at my apartment by myself so I’d either spend the night at my boyfriend’s place or he would stay with me.  I had very little in my apartment my Mom allowed me to take their old black and white T.V. and an old and very heavy fan.  

At this time, my parents had sort of disowned me.  They didn’t like the idea that I had a boyfriend and maybe they felt like they were losing control even though to me, it felt like they still had their “hooks” in me.  

I had bought my first brand new car; a baby blue dodge colt hatchback.  It only had A.M. radio and no a.c.  I loved my first car.  I had used my little savings to purchase this car and reluctantly, my parents had co-signed the auto loan.  One of the ways that they tried to continue to control me was to have access to my bank account.  They were unhappy with me spending my time with BK and threatened to take my car away.  One day when I was at BK’s house, they drove down and took my car.  My Dad had an extra key.  For awhile after that crazy incident, BK would drive me to and from work but this got to be sort of a hassle as I had very long hours.  I decided that I had to call my folks and get my car back.  I called them and they said I could come over and we would have a “talk”.  The title of the car was in my name so technically they should not have been able to take the car but I had little understanding of this at the time.  My parents instructed me to give them back the t.v. and fan.  BK drove me to my parents house to return those items and I did not want to stay and have that talk with my folks.  As I was turning to leave the house,  my Dad snatched my purse off my shoulder and threw it in the house.  There was a little bit of a scuffle between him and I.  BK had stayed in the car this whole time but now came out as he witnessed this.  He approached my Dad to try and help me and angry words were exchanged.  This was the first time they had met.  My Dad asked BK, “who the hell are you?!”  Dad basically told BK that this was none of his business and to stay out of it.  I sat in the car shaking, wondering what I should do.  At the advise of BK, I called the police to report this as a robbery.  I couldn’t understand why my Dad took my purse.  It was all so crazy.  The police arrived and I explained to them the scuffle with the purse and they rang the doorbell to talk to my Dad.  I heard my Dad being extremely polite to the police and kept referring him to “sir”.  I’m sure cops hate getting involved in domestic squabbles because it’s always “he said, she said”.  The police officer handed me my purse and left.  My Dad was still standing there and came outside to yell at me telling me that obviously I was not the one who decided to call the police because I didn’t really have any brains to come up with that idea myself.  He called me stupid and dumb and worthless.  Up until that moment, I had never heard those words coming out of his mouth.  Mom stayed in the house the whole time.  

All those years of being called horrible things by Mom was one thing but hearing it come from Dad really stung.  This was the ugliest side of him that I had ever witnessed.  Was he upset because I had a boyfriend? Did he feel like he was losing me?  I couldn’t understand his thinking and now as far as I could tell, they both hated me.

During this period of being disowned, I was going through some sort of mental and emotional stress.  The job at the tour company was adding to my stress because at such a young age, I was responsible for entire tour groups that I would take around the island on their different tour package and  I would often go with them to the outer islands as well.  I realized that I hated this job but I felt obligated to continue to work there because my Mom knew my boss very well.

The fear in me began to grow.  I would be briefing my group and feel such an intense presence about me.  I felt nervous and scared and felt as if I would lose control of myself.  One evening after taking my group to a dinner show, I was done for the day and time to go home.  As I was crossing the street to go to my car, I could not move.  The fear had gripped me in my tracks.  I called the office and asked to speak to Jake who was the only person there that I felt like I could talk to about this.  He immediately came and got me and took me to the office.  He and the president of this small company both sat with me and we talked about religion.  I had such a strong sense that this was a spiritual attack of some sort because of the fear.  I remember having to use the bathroom so bad that I thought my bladder would explode but I just could not get myself to go until it became too unbearable to hold.  Of course nothing happened.

This is when I began to reach out to my Uncle J and Aunt S.  They were good friends of my parents and growing up, our families would often get together.  One evening, I went over to their house to explain to them what had happened between my parents and me.  They were my lifesavers at the time.  I spent many a nights with them and they always made me feel loved.  One evening Uncle J answered his phone and it was my Dad.  I think my Dad had gotten wind of my spending a lot of time at their house through my boss who happened to be friends with Uncle and Aunt as well.  Uncle and Aunty’s son S also worked at the same tour company as I did.  This phone call was ugly.  I couldn’t hear exactly what my Dad was yelling on the other end of the phone to my  Uncle and Uncle J stayed calm and told my Dad that I was welcome at their house anytime and that I was precious in their eyes.  Apparently my Dad had told Uncle J to tell me something because Uncle J told my Dad that he (Uncle) would never repeat those words to another soul…that he would not even repeat it to a dog.  This was the last time that my parents and Uncle J and Aunt S would speak.  Their friendship ended after almost 30 years.  Of course my parents blamed me for this falling out between the two families.  (It is traditional in the islands to call other adults Uncle and Aunty if the families had a long friendship between them.  We had no blood relation).

Work became unbearable.  I was constantly nervous and always seemed to be fighting the fear that I would eventually lose control.  I couldn’t eat and lost 15 pounds.  I was already on the thin side so the weight loss was significant for me.  Much like all the ugliness of the events growing up, I had become an expert at hiding what was really going on both inside and outside of myself.  No one could ever tell that there was such turmoil within me just by looking at me.

I knew that the stresses of the job was adding to my already stressful emotional situation.  I had been cut off by my parents, believed everything they said about me all those years and  I felt so cut off and abandoned.

I answered an add in the newspaper for a position in one of the hotels.  It was a big hotel which brought in many tourists and with my Japanese speaking ability, I was hired and gave my 2 week notice to the tour company.  I was so relieved to not be working there any longer and thought that once I left that job, the emotional stress would disappear…it didn’t.  I would have periods of sheer acute panic and continued to fight these feelings.  The acute phase would only last a short while followed by fear that it would come on again.  I then began to contemplate suicide but somehow there was a deep “knowing” within me that told me that committing suicide was not the answer.  I had the distinct feeling that I had to continue to go through this.  There were periods of panic, or fear, or sadness where I would get a “glimpse” of peace.  I held on to that peace.  This helped me so much.  Having those small periods of peace made me believe that my life was not going to be all about the darkness within me all the time.

So now I’m working at this new job and although the job itself was less stressful, my emotional state had not gotten much better.  For a long time I could not go into any fitting rooms in the clothing stores because I always imagined that I would come out naked, yelling and ranting and raving like a lunatic.  In the car, it took all my concentration to not lose control at the stop lights. I would tell myself that if I could just make it through this stop light to the next, I would be ok.

BK didn’t help much.  I tried to tell him of my feelings and I’m sure he just could not relate.  He said he thought I was crazy.  Ok really…I certainly felt as if I was crazy but I needed to hear from someone that I wasn’t.  I shared these feeling with my Uncle one night and he listened intently and seemed to understand that these feelings were a result of everything I had gone through in the past and especially most recently with being cut off from my parents in such a hurtful way.  Uncle J was so patient with me and he made me feel normal even though on my insides, I was in turmoil.  He would often remind me that everyone has their issues and we are ALL crazy…in one way or another.  When he put it to me that way, I didn’t seem to be that bad.

At this point, about a year and a half has gone by and I am still fighting on the inside.  I’m still nervous, panicky and I’m certain that I’m crazy and that one day very soon, I would lose total control by some outside and unseen force.  It was as if the years of the oppression during my upbringing was turning into a huge monster that was trying to take control.  I didn’t know if I needed a priest or a psychiatrist.  I had been going to a traditional Christian church and to tell you the truth, the guilt that many of the churches put on me about being born a sinner actually made me feel worse…not to mention I was “living in sin” by shacking up with my boyfriend…but I kept going thinking that Jesus would save me from my fear.  Soon however, it was time to seek counseling from a therapist.  I found a psychiatrist and made my first appointment for the following week.  I was excited and scared at the same time because now an “expert” would tell me what was wrong with me and I would get to feeling better…or so I thought…

…continued

25. Journey Backwards-Strange entities

 

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So much of my childhood was filled with fear.  It crept into my adult life but as I grow spiritually, I am beginning to recognize it for what it really is…fear of fear.  

Growing up in a household that was anything but nurturing, my imaginings and perceptions around me were quite skewed.  Besides the night mares and feelings of oppression around me, I began to think that there was something wrong with me on a deeper level…as if I was “tainted” somehow.  When I say a deeper level, I guess I mean my soul/spirit.  I came to believe this about myself because I just didn’t feel right.  It felt as if there was hell all around me.  I understand now of course that my whole upbringing was hellish.  The environment was hell and as far as I could understand back then, my Mom was from hell.

In a nurturing household, a parents will gently help to make the child realize that everything is ok and that there are no boogeymen in the closet or monsters under the bed.  The child is allowed to voice their fears and the parents offer a safety net of love and security.  Of course some children have “active imaginations” and this should be nurtured as well.  My house was anything but safe.  

I would often “sense” things.  I would sense presences all around me and I perceived them as “bad”.  I’ve had the ability to “sense things” all my life but growing up, I didn’t understand it…and because of all the terrible incidences, my “imagination or perception” at the time was that a big bad boogey man was after me.  Sometimes my imagination would get so bad that I had to have my little sis come to the bathroom with me.   I was afraid to be in a room by myself and having sis there with me made me feel a little better.  Maybe a part of me felt that if sis present with me, nothing bad would happen.

Many unexplainable things would happen like the time I was in the bathroom filling up the sink with water and all of a sudden, the stopper in the sink would drop and the water would start to drain.  I would feel something “brush” along side my body and I would freak out.  I’d rush out of the bathroom and walk outside not mentioning this to anyone.  Somehow, being outside felt safer than being in that house.  Often, the dishes in the china cabinet would rattle and instead of giving myself a rational explanation like maybe a big truck drove by causing the dishes to move around a bit, or that the wind somehow only affected the dishes in the china cabinet but nothing else.   So I would automatically assume that “that monster” was after me again and he was letting me know that he was close.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and just lie there in terror…in the dark, with everything so quite all around me.  There went my imagination again…conjuring up the scariest of stories in my head.  I would imagine that I would “see” a dark presence in the corner of my room…so I wouldn’t dare look in that direction.  I wouldn’t look but I knew it was there…I could sense it.  I made sure that I was under the covers and my feet weren’t hanging off the bed because then I might be grabbed.  The strange thing is that I liked to watched scary movies and this didn’t help me any!  But the weird thing is, my sister would sometimes have shared experiences with me.  Sometimes we would both wake up at the same time in the middle of the night…or maybe we were woken up by some unseen presence? Who knows? Then we would hear our names being called from outside our bedroom window.  Not in a scary way but just as if a friend was outside calling us to come out and play.  Of course this would be in the wee hours of the morning around 2:00 or 3:00 am.  We’d just lie there looking at each other with our covers up to our eyes.    

Sis and I celebrated Halloween like all the other kids in the neighborhood and after collecting our candy treats, we would separate the candy.  I like to put all my chocolate candies in one bag and all my lollypops in another and so forth.  We used saved clear produce bags that Mom would get from the grocery store and because of the occasional ant problems we’d have in the house, we had to make sure that all the candy was tightly tied off in these bags.  Many times in the middle of the night, sis and I would wake up and hear rustling.  We never talked to each other during any of these “night incidents” because I think we were too afraid to speak but we knew that it was the candy bags being rustled about.  The whole house was dark and we knew Mom was already asleep.  

I must have been about 14 years old and by this time, I had developed quite a vivid imagination.  Too many things had happened around the house that was so frightening to me.  Was it all in my head?  Was I really witnessing something paranormal?  Was it evil?  Was it after me?  Although sis witnessed some of these things, I “sensed” them very often.  I went to my Dad and told him that I thought there was a ghost in the house.  He looked at me and told me that I better not talk like that because I’d be locked up in the crazy hospital.  So that was that.  I never mentioned it ever again and I desperately tried to shut down whatever it was that was happening to me.  I told myself that nothing was actually happening.  My parents certainly weren’t witnessing any of it so it was all in my head.  I was crazy…

The scariest incident of all was one night when I woke up in the middle of the night again and l looked to my left where my parent’s bedroom was located…because we never slept with our bedroom doors closed, I could see the foot of my parents bed and the both of them lying there…but who was that standing in front of the dresser?  I looked again not understanding what I was seeing.  It was a dark figure that was shaped like my Mom…just a dark shadow of a figure without any distinguishable features.  What was it doing?  My mind told me to look away because I sensed that IT sensed I had been looking at it and I feared that it would look at me.  I closed my eyes and lied there on my back.  Oh my gosh! What in the world was it? I sensed that it was hovering over me now…waiting for me to open my eyes to see it looking down on me…staring with it’s deep red eyes.  I didn’t dare open my eyes…who knows what would happen if I did?  As I lie there feeling terrified, my eyelids trembled and I thought to myself, “it sees my eyelids trembling with fear, it knows I’m just pretending! Keep your eyes shut and stop your trembling eyelids!”  It felt like several hours that I lie there on my back.  I so desperately wanted to turn and change positions but I mustn’t move!  I could feel the blood pooling in the areas of my body that compressed on the bed but I stayed in that position until I saw the first hint of sunlight outside.  It was only then that I felt safe enough to move.  I turned to change positions and immediately fell asleep.  So all the scary stuff that I had experienced up until then was not as scary as this…but I would tell no one about it for years.

So I carried this fear of the unknown with me for a long time.  I thought for sure that there was definitely something after me…and it was after me because my soul was “tainted”.  I was bad…so very bad.

By this time, I was out on my own.  Mom had returned back from Japan and of course there was no mention of the “offness” of Dad’s behavior while Mom was away.  (Journey Backwards-17-Strange Looks).  I was working long hours at the Japanese tour company and was pretty much financially taking care of myself.  Sometimes I would work 16 hour days and go back to my apartment and crash.  My apartment was creepy.  It was someones garage made into a one bedroom apartment.  It was located close to my work so that was one good thing.  I didn’t like being in that apartment by myself…in fact, I didn’t like being by myself…

…continued