The Beginning of Pain – by Bob Groves
I apologise for not updating in a while, my own issues somewhat overwhelmed me but I’m back on the horse so to speak and today we welcome a contribution from Bob Groves. My apologies for taking so long to put it up Bob.
Imagine that your mother was abused horribly as a child. Not just a beating or two, but beatings, lack of food for punishmeng, sexual assault by family, being locked in the closet for a year, and of course the mental abuse that comes with all of that. Now imagine that she is taken away from all of that but there isn’t adequet psychiatric help yet. She ends up living with a wonderful foster family who love her dearly. Then she meets an awesome man and marries him. After 10 years of marriage and two kids with a man that would never harm her, she starts to fall back to what her life was like before. She starts seeking out men that will harm her. She ends up leaving this wonderful man and living with a guy who beats her almost daily.
She brings the kids with her and they have to deal with him as well. He never lays a hand on them but his emotional abuse is more than enough to break the spirits of these two children that don’t understand what’s going on but they try to stand up to him. For their safety, their mother sends them to live with their father who has recently remarried and brings her own two kids into the family.
So now we’ve got four kids, all of whom are very confused and have been thrust into a life they don’t understand. All the know is that their parent loves them and that they are supposed to be nice to these other kids they are living with.
At this point, there is a lot of difficulty for the kids. They don’t have the skills to adapt or understand. Fortunately, there are plenty of kids in the neighborhood so friends are easy to find. The oldest spends a lot of time at his best friend’s house just two houses away. He even spends the nights there often because that’s what kids do. During these nights though, the mother of the friend and her oldest (a few years older than his brother) decide that it would be funny to dress these kids in girls clothes and let them run around the house. It’s all harmless fun. These are just 10 year old boys afterall. Then when it’s time for bed, the visitor is asked if he wants to spend the night in the oldest boy’s room. Not wanting to be rejected by the older kid, he agrees.
As more and more sleep overs occur, more and more inappropriate touching happens. The young man doesn’t really know what he should do. He doesn’t want to be rejected by the older kid and he doesn’t want to lose his friend so he bottles everything up. His anxiety shows but when the teachers talk to his parents, they don’t think to ask if anything is wrong. There are already so many things this child is dealing with, they don’t think that something more would be piled onto his life.
Between the abuse he witnessed, the transition to another new school, a new family, a mother that sent him away, and puberity starting up, it seems like this would be more than enough to cause anxiety. In the 1970s you didn’t send your kids to see a psychiatric doctor.
As this child becomes a man, he is thin, wears glasses, has braces, plays Dungeons and Dragons, is socially awkward, is smarter than his peers, and generally not accepted by his peers. His social skills never develop and he spends a good part of his time being bullied. He can’t get a girl to go on even a simple date with him.
This sounds like the making of a serial killer, but it isn’t. Instead it was how my life got its start. I ended up with PTSD and generalized anxiety. However, it went undiagnosed and improperly diagnosed for years. I tried many times to take my life. I was almost successful several times. Without the help of my friends and eventually my family, I wouldn’t be here to write this. I went through many doctors and diagnoses (depressions, bi-polar, attention deficit, and each of those comes in more than one form). I went through many medications, all of which cause weight gain. I ended up gaining over 100 pounds in a year because I had been misdiagnosed.
A few of the doctors were concerned with my faith. One even wanted to pray and suggested that I seek a pastor. When I was in the Army with anxiety issues, one of the requirements before I could speak to a psychologist was to speak to a chaplin. That may have changed by now, but when I served 20 years ago, that was the only option.
My current doctor, who is deeply religious, does not push her faith on me. She is the one that figured out I have PTSD. When she asked me about my faith, I told her I was an atheist. She does what she can to avoid using her faith to help me. I appreciate that very much. She’s human, like the rest of us, so it slips once in a while. However, in the almost 10 years I’ve been seeing her, I think it’s slipped maybe twice. When it does, all she does is turn it into something secular. For example, once she accidently asked me when I was going to get back into praying (she had forgotten and confused my faith with another patient). She quickly looked at her notes, apologized, and said, “Well, I know that you don’t pray but have you tried different meditation techniques that may help calm your anxiety? I can show you some if you would like.”
My religious friends are amazed at how strong I am without needing to seek a higher power. They come to me for advice, some of it religious which is kind of weird. They want to know how to deal with various problems that they know I have had to handle. I don’t see my doctor more than once every couple of months and that’s mostly for medication checks and to touch base. I still have problems once in a while and I’ll need her help but I don’t usually get to the point of needing hospitalization. I did have a huge problem recently but with the help of my friends, I survived. I know that I wouldn’t have seen the new year begin without their help.
In the end, I still have problems but they aren’t as bad. I had a rough life starting out and during the time when everyone else is learning how to be a part of society, I was ostracized. I survived though and because I don’t rely on higher powers, I am able to deal with things much better than many others I know. I have to find the strength within.
If you are wondering how my mother is doing, she isn’t well, physically and emotionally. I don’t talk to her for a variety of reasons. I think the two best decisions she ever made her life was marrying my father and then sending my brother and I to live with him. My step mother has proven herself to be an incredible woman and mother and I can never tell her enough how much I am glad she became a part of my life.
Today, I work as a pharmacy technician. I have been doing that for about 10 years. Without the excellent health insurance I had, I would never have been able to see my doctors as often as I needed to during those difficult times. While the number of visits I can have has been reduced from “unlimited” to 36, I really only need about 10 a year, and that’s pushing it. I can probably get away with 5 to 6. The minimum will always be 2 visits because that’s her policy. I have better friends who are there when I need them. I haven’t hidden anything from them and they have made the effort to learn more. They may not know everything, but they know what they need to know. Some members of my family have tried to be there for me. It’s probably harder when they are so close to the history. I know that they care though and that’s often enough for me.