An A-ha Moment

A minute ago I had a revelatory moment that sparked an audible “Oh, shit!” I’m not new to having revelations about my own life, although I should be. A person’s own life should never be a surprise. I mean, the meat of it, the day to day routine, the knowing your abilities - the knowing the truth of yourself. You should know where you came from and where you’re at now. It’s a good metric.

The last time I had a moment like this was in a developmental psychology course. It was one of those elementary exercises where the professor makes a statement and you raise your hand if you agree. So, she describes a situation with a kid and we raise our hand if we think it’s abuse. We raise our hand if we should report it to the department of social services. I didn’t get a single one right, and worse yet, I’m feeling smug because I lived through most of them. In my head, I was saying “well, no one reported that or that when I was young.” Around the third round of leaving my hands on the table top and watching everyone else’s hands jump to the sky I realized I was abused and neglected. “Oh, shit,” nineteen and suddenly realizing I lied every time a doctor asked me if I had a trauma history. The frequency of that question should have clued me in, but hindsight and all and then there’s blurry vision and whatnot.

Here I am years and years later having another uncomfortable moment. Less interesting, but it is causing a similar shift.

I just joined a new social media. In my attempts to feel less alone I typed “spoonie” into the search box. Up comes more than a few posts. A lot of multiple sclerosis, a lot of myalgic encephalitis, one person with anemia. There were no posts about chronic fatigue syndrome, which is the label I was given at 23 years old. I probably would have fit the criteria for it a decade earlier than that.

There was one post that jumped out at me. It was a woman who was flaring while her husband was away on a work trip. She was calling on all spoonies to give her ideas for meals when she’s tired. My eager hand shot to the sky, so confident that I had some meal ideas: lettuce and smoked salmon, box of organic soup, apple with peanut butter. As I scroll down to add my reply I read through a dozen replies from other spoonies. They are not easy: sauté onions and add a can of beans, make rice then stir fry with veggies and chicken, take a piece of fish marinate it and bake. Make MAC AND CHEESE. Jesus, I’m even tired thinking about making macaroni and cheese. Waiting for the water to boil. Stirring and stirring and stirring the pasta. Draining it theougha colander. Cleaning the colander. Heating the milk and butter. Beating the lumps out of it. Mixing it all together. And I haven’t even tolerated cheese since I was like 18! Oh, and then there was this one: “if you’re too tired just cook an omelette.” Seriously, I can’t even make it to the whole “adding pasta to boiling water” and that’s only step 2 out of a 6 step macaroni and cheese. I can’t stand for that long. I get tired. I get weak. My brain fog worsens and I forget which step I’m on. I dissociate and get lost inside my head. I always have to sit down before a meal is made.

I am so much worse than I thought I was. This - whatever etiology is behind this trash can diagnosis - it’s killing me. I’m not hacking it. I’m not living or even surviving. No amount of positive thinking could have prevented me from this revelation: I am 34 and I am sick.

I’m not chronically tired. I am ill. There is something wrong and I want to fix it.

I am starting this blog because I vow to get better. I vow to be happy and healthy. I vow to live. I am holding myself to it and this will chronicle my way there.
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Hello @Thehealthofholly. Good description of both child abuse and living with ME.

It's true that we really don't know abuse, and I never looked at myself as abused, but many years ago I was a volunteer with a group helping Social Workers. Within weeks of daily classes we were trained to essentially be social workers ourselves. The things we, i wasn't abused in that way, always felt loved but there were some pretty big gaps.

Still, I have to say that almost any child (unless severely abused) wants to remain with their parent.

I was always amazed at how they knew we were on our way to check on things and some of the scenes we encountered were way beyond our scope.

An infant is generally taken in by a loving family, but that's not always the case for older children. Today, there is nowhere for them to go and the system really isn't good. How fair is to be turned out of any home at age 18 without any money in your pocket or a direction that you're pointed. This is insane.

OK, it was bad enough then, and I'm going back probably 35 years ago +++ then. It was hard volunteer work and finally after doing it for more than 5 years, I just couldn't do it any longer. I realized that when I wanted to smack one of the teenage mother's across the face....definitely not good. I realized it though.

We have a severe shortage of social workers, we did then. Many children are abused b/c the parents were brought up that way themselves. It's just all very sad, isn't it? I hope you'll be able to come to terms with your past and the challenges of your future. Personally, I would go into the kitchen and have the apple with peanut butter. Or cut cheese and have it with crackers and fruit.....hard boiled eggs, there are easier ways of living. Yours, Lenora
It’s absolutely a hard field, but worthy and necessary.

I can’t say that every child wants to stay with their parents. I didn’t. I tried to emancipate myself, ended up moving out at 17. A few of my sisters left before the age of 14. Everyone has their own journey, their own responses to even the same things.
Hello Thehealthofholly.....Thanks for your experience. I have no idea of your situation but understand that it must have been difficult.

It's true that social work is a hard, underpaid field. In my childhood emancipation wasn't even considered; today things are different. I live in TX and we are in sore need of good foster homes, proper training.....things like a set-up such as the one at Hershey in PA.

Many young lives are molded via this method....we need to learn. Unfortunately, right now (unless that has changed) it's for males only. My brothers could have had different futures than the ones they had. I wish......!

May I ask how you and your sisters were able to live? (I'm interested). There are many jobs such as working in fast food, etc., that make this possible. I just wish you well as you go forward....and you will. Yours, Lenora
Working multiple jobs, living with boyfriends, or selling drugs, in all honesty.

I had 3 jobs and was going to school for medical assisting at the age of 17. That was back in 2005.

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