Friday, January 17, 2014

My Bonding Issues

As a nurse, I have spent an extensive amount of time studying the social sciences (anthropology, sociology and psychology) as well as physical sciences (biology and chemistry). Since I started my career in the medical field, I have almost exclusively worked with psychiatric patients.

My favorite thing about the psychiatric subfield is that I still get to do medical work, but I spend a lot of time focusing on the social and psychological issues. Challenges are my favorite. Plus spending time an getting to know my patients is important to me. Nursing would not be worth all of the hardships if I was not able to bond with my patients.

All that being said, I am still a human with my own personal trials and struggles. My life has been one of hardships and disappointments, but I keep a good attitude and take it all as it comes. Sympathizing with my patients is sadly all too easy.

My life has been lonely and I often feel detached and ungrounded without a family or a place to call home. Making home and family everywhere I go, I have friends and family all across the United States, but I always feel alone and I never feel that I can call on people, unless it is convenient for them as well. Instead I can share my story with anyone- and at times I did talk to anyone who would listen.

For years, my brothers physically abused me. Learning to keep to myself, and getting a lot of practice with problem resolution, I learned how to manage abusive relationships. There were a few times I was actually seriously hurt, and once I nearly died. Each time I had to fight for myself to get my most basic needs met.

Playing around with my brothers I accidentally broke a bone in my foot. After a week my brother finally convinced my mother to take him to the doctor. Yes you read that right. My younger brother was mimicking me for attention, literally following behind me as I tried to walk. My mother took him to the doctor. Luckily I was able to beg and plead my way into going with them. Finally after betting my mother I was genuinely in pain, she resolved to prove I was faking my injury. She acted in shock when she realized I had a broken foot, not my younger brother. She never gave me an apology.

My father was watching all four of us as we played at the indoor pool at the apartments he lived at. Curious by nature, I liked to look in the bug catch thing by the side of the pool. Though I thought I put the lid on it correctly, I apparently did not. My eldest brother ran around the pool and misstepped into that hole. Once he got hurt he became furious. He realized quickly that I had been responsible for his accident and jumped into the pool to get revenge. He held me under water for so long that I began to pass out. Luckily I had been playing with a life jacket that day and it lifted me up when I was too weak to struggle for air. By the time I made it out of the water, I was blue. My father never even got up to punish my brother or to check on me. That moment created a lasting effect on me that I still struggle with today.

Between my mother, my father, my brothers, and then my stepfamily, I knew without a doubt that I was alone in the world. Although I have always thought there was something wrong with my family, I did also internalize a lot of my worth because of how they treated me. After the rape and trying to make it by myself for a few years in high school- with being kicked out of multiple families because an extra mouth to feed is apparently so much trouble- I began looking to sexual relationships to survive. The fact that I needed a man to have a roof over my head and a car made me furious- it had nothing to do with how hard I worked ( I had 3 jobs at the time and was still dependent on a man). It made me feel like a whore because my roof was dependent on me having sex with someone- not my intelligence, work ethics, dependability, or character. Nope. Just sex.

Falling into abusive relationships was easy for me. Not that I looked for them, I just apparently attracted only the biggest jerks. No one ever hit on me. For the longest time- only until the last few years- I was under the assumption that there was something wrong with me that kept guys from wanting a relationship with me. Well decent, handsome, intelligent guys. It turns out that many men in my home town have incredible respect for me, and were quite attracted to me, but I was "unattainable." How I blew that I will never know.

Please do not misconstrue the abusive relationship attraction. The sexiest thing in a guy is a nice, respectful man. But I managed to get nice guys with serious issues. But I am so great at relationships- or at avoiding/resolving confrontation- that I would end up in a long relationship with someone who had serious drug/anger issues.

After nearly 8 years of a tumultuous, abusive relationship, my husband had beaten me about 5 times. However, I always felt it was due to his own mental breaks and I did not take it personally. He mainly abused me through neglect and the threat of violence. It wasnt until I was cooking dinner one day, that he walked up to me after the mood had been happy in the house and began to choke me. In that moment I realized I was going to get killed if I kept my marriage. Divorce was not an option I had ever considered until that attack. The way he choked me with a sneer on his face looking me straight in the eyes struck this deep fury in me. I HATE IT when people try to kill me (yes, its happened before).

After leaving my husband, I spent a year to myself before I began to date again. That is when I met my ex fiance. He was the first man I could trust, but it scared me. I kept scouring our interactions to see where the abuse would come in. Feeling as though I had a natural attraction to abusive relationships, I kept my guard up. However, he earned every bit of my affection. We never fought, so I tried to confront him with every issue as it came, to keep myself from avoiding conflict- I ran to it!

Now I am sure that I have bonding issues. A person from my past sought to compliment me by saying I had that gypsy quality to me. They did not realize it was because I have trouble engaging in relationships. My friends are either super close or practically deeply personal acquaintanceships. Having a conversation with me, you would probably disagree, but my oldest friends know better, even if they could never identify it.

So look, every issue we go through shines light on places in ourselves that we need to grow. As I have suffered through my own personal losses, I realize that I stay detached from people, I avoid situations that can be confrontational (but I am considerably better), that I search for relationships to "save" people (much better at that too!) and I move across states away from people because I feel like I dont belong anywhere. As much as I have tried to create my own "family" I have failed Miserably by settling for relationships that further destroy my trust in the "family bond." This time I am resolving to face these issues head on- openly- to keep myself in check.

Waiting. Alone. These have been my most deeply, painful experiences. But if I want my real relationships- not the mirages of what I want- I have to be ready for them when they come. Here's to the other side.