The Progression of Mental Health BreakdownBy
“And then I identify as a failure…. I also believe I am stupid. And I don’t think I deserve anything better and sometimes I can see how it all spirals down into a deep dark foggy place where I am sinking in deep pockets of muck”. Darlene Ouimet ~ in the past.
At the age of 6 my mother dressed me up in one of her black lace teddies and panties which just hung like a black lacy sack on me, and she sent me out to ‘dance’ in front of my father and one of his business associates who was spending the night at our home. I was so excited and just bursting with nervous laughter; I loved to dress up and I already had a crush on this young man and thought it would be such a surprise when I popped out in my outfit dancing and twirling in his honour. I was baffled and really mortified when I saw the look of shock on my father’s face. That look told me that I had just done something terribly wrong, but I had no idea what the heck it was.
I have written about how as a teenager, I had a crush on my mother’s boyfriend, and one night he came into my bedroom when I was sleeping and he molested me. As I have said before, all my life, by my mother’s example due to what I think she believed her value was, my mother taught me that my value was sexual. Having a grown man in my bedroom, touching me telling me that I am beautiful and trying to lay beside me in bed was horrifying and frightful and I didn’t feel valued by it. I felt nothing but fear. Even though my Aunt, (my mom’s sister) rescued me from what was probably going to be rape, and told my mother that her boyfriend was trying to get in bed with me wearing nothing but his underwear, my mother didn’t believe either of us. She insisted that I misunderstood and then she blamed it on me because I had a crush on him.
It is important to note here how the lies work. My mother said that I was mistaken but then added “well Darlene, you did have a crush on him” which actually indicates that she did believe me after all. I didn’t realize that by her accusation, she admitted to believing me until I was in my early forties! Then to make matters worse, after that incident my mother treated me like her competition instead of her daughter, which further enforced my fear that the sexual encounter was something that I caused. My mother acted like I was after her boyfriends but I didn’t know what I had done that brought it on. Just like when I was dressed up in my mother’s black lace, once again I had no idea what I had actually done wrong. A young mind comes to all kinds of wrong conclusions.
My mother approved of me when I was quiet, compliant, and when I made her look good. Those things by themselves might not have caused a huge problem. She also approved of me when I was sexually appealing to men, and when men were attracted to me. This was true even when I was a teenager and the men were real men and not boys, unless she thought that the man in question was hers. I became what and who she wanted me to be, I became interested in being all those things, and eventually those things defined me. Ultimately I believed that my value was in how sexually attractive that I was. It was about whether or not men desired me.
There was a conflict though. I had been sexually molested several different times beginning at the age of two plus due to my conditioning, I accepted that I had done something to cause it, and I had no idea what I had done, which created confusion in my thinking process. Being desired validated me, and being desired was frightening and dangerous at the same time. Since I had been taught (over time) that everything that happened to me was my fault and the belief that I was also responsible for someone else’s actions and moods caused me to constantly question myself about what I had done or had neglected to do to cause the reaction of the other person. Since I could not figure it out, I lived in fear of doing “it” again by accident. I worte about this fear in my post about psychological abuse years later.
This kind of conditioning permeates into all of our future relationships. Imagine what happens when we have this belief ~ that everything is our fault and that we deserve whatever results we create and then to make matters worse, we are told as adults that we are in charge of our own lives and we can’t for the life of us figure out how to change anything. This becomes the lens that we view our lives through and we easily accept that we are always the problem, except that we honestly don’t understand or comprehend why. (I refer to this state of mind as “the spin”.) All of the conditioning and belief systems stuff becomes part of how we live and we wonder why we have so many struggles with our mental health because we don’t always relate the past to the present in this way.
So you can see how I identified as a failure. I also thought I was stupid because I could not get a grip and kept getting into devaluing relationships; I didn’t think I deserved anything better. You can see how it all spiralled down into a deep dark foggy place full of sludgy muck that was really hard to navigate my way out of. And since I did find my way out of it, I am really passionate about sharing my breakthroughs with you.
P.S. Many of you have not been sexually abused, but it is my hope that you can relate to this story about belief system development because the way it happens can be applied to so many other examples. I welcome your thoughts and feedback as always.
Darlene Ouimet ~ in the present
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