Perfect

I touch on sexual abuse in this post so please don’t read if that will upset you.

Another day, another session with the psychologist. This particular day is granite grey, with wind and rain racing through the tunnels of the bus station, whipping everything in its path. That would also be me. But I like it. You can’t beat a good storm. It amplifies the gritty nature of where I currently live, all concrete and hard edges of unlovliness. Even the straggly looking trees lack colour. Post war architecture was not kind to this particular part of Rotterdam. Again though, it suits me today. I match my surroundings in emotions – unforgiving and temperamental.

I had one of those sessions where I sat and didn’t agree with what I was being told. To a certain extent. My bipolar and sexual abuse are being mixed up with my ability to parent and feel like a mother and they are all separate. In order for me to realise that it is normal to feel stressed, anxious and worried. All mothers go through this and my reactions are not based on my disorders.

Except when you have lived the life you live with abuse and bipolar actually your reactions are based on past experience. I can’t just turn that off. What happened to me has made me the person I am today and that in turn impacts on my reaction. And because of bipolar and abuse, those reactions are loaded with the weight of what I have done in the past and regularly come back to haunt me. There is no escaping it. I live it every day and at some point relive an aspect of my past every day, that either influences how I respond to my daughter or leaves me feeling like I’ve been punched in the stomach. It’s not that I want to have these thoughts, geez far from it – it’s that they appear at random. I can’t control them.

So I don’t agree. But when that happens I smile and nod and move onto something else because I do get benefit out of other things we go through. Perhaps I should argue the point. But I can’t be bothered. I have other things I want to address. And it is kind of her to want to reassure me that I am OK. And a timely reminder to me that no one knows everything. They don’t live inside the murk of my mind, so how could they get it? Doctors only go so far. The rest is up to me.

I have worked really hard to reduce the barriers I have up between me and my baby these last couple of weeks and it is slowly working. I find it very difficult but so rewarding.

I was pondering what we were discussing and why I react the way I do when something isn’t just so. Or perfect. One theme that is recurring for me is perfection. Hmm how to put this.

I have felt throughout my adult life that everything has to be perfect. I am by nature a perfectionist and I have high standards for myself in terms of performance at work, socially. I set myself up for massive failure in this regard, of course. You can’t control everything around you. I am also pretty adaptable and that has helped in striving to achieve perfection back when I was working. I like results and achievements. I am very target driven and goal oriented. Which is OK at work I suppose but not helpful when dealing with a baby.

So what, loads of people are that way, you could shrug. Very true. But when you add in the reasons why I think the picture changes.

I remember my childhood as chaos. My mother wasn’t around as she was working. I was raised by my abuser. Even after she left, the chaos continued. No one ever helped us with homework, showed us how to organise our bag, how to get ready. A teacher pounced on my school bag and showed me up in front of the whole class about homework not done. I was so ashamed. I was eight.

I do, randomly, have one warm memory as a kiddy of my mum doing my hair. That was the thing we seemed to do together. We were left to fend for ourselves mainly, and by the time I was 11 and we were back in the UK we were pretty much on our own. No one to guide us.

It’s a pretty young age to be left to fend for yourself. No one was interested in what I had to do in my life. I was expected to get on with it.

So as an adult I am going about trying to organise everything in an attempt to come to terms with my past. Which is logical I think. But it doesn’t explain this extreme reaction I have to when she throws her food around and refuses to eat. Or when she won’t keep her socks and shoes on.

See, if you are a perfect little girl, bad things don’t happen to you. So if my daughter is a perfect little girl nothing bad will happen to her. Like being abused by a C word of the first order. And so it goes on and on.

In addition to my parents obsessing at us about their totally unrealistic need for us to always be perfect, there is something tickling in my memory about having to do everything spot on. I can’t grasp it. The problem with these memories of abuse is that they are like grey grease in my head. I see something in the shadows of my mind that echoes back in my current behaviour and I can’t bloody well get to it. Then I’m back to the need to control everything in an attempt to understand what happened and bring order to my mind.

But there is something to this perfect thing. I have that nauseated feeling whenever something about the abuse comes up. I need to leave this now and explore it more. Urgh. I have head melt.

Fuck this is hard work.

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