Category Archives: Teen

It’s a deep but not mysterious place. I’ve been there all along.

It’s time to get raucous. Why has that word come to me 3 times in the last 24 hours? Raucous. It will seem that way to you. But that is because we don’t often look or listen or feel and also ask about the origins of what is being shown to us.

All I want to say and express is raucous to some (harsh, strident, grating, rowdy, disorderly…a little out of control). But there is pure sense beyond it. What is that sense I wonder…? I really don’t care if you can’t figure that out. If you can’t you can sit with the raucousness. If you actually wonder what sense if makes for me to get all raucous, you’re welcome to ask.

The truth about me — I have not expressed, reacted in my life. Early on I was scared away from doing so. I experienced terror as a result of showing my experience, showing my emotional reaction. I was scared away from having a perfectly natural…not just human response…but a response specific to me, specific to my make-up. Being alone and death were the threats that taught me to hide it all.

The gates would inevitably open though. And they are about to burst. Just writing these words is giving me nausea. I want to keep on typing words around it all. I want to keep on writing words all the way up to the gates…so close that I am tasting the ages old doors and the crap on them with my eyeballs. Part of me, even now, tells me I can be safe if I just-don’t-say it.

I am afraid to not ever be able to take back what I say when I say it. I am absolutely paralyzed by fear when I think of the punishment that could chase me when I say the words, when I show the anger the dissatisfaction.

Why would I be afraid that I won’t be able to take it back?

Because when you say what you really think in front of people who think you owe them, people how have built up such a city of avoidance between them and their own gates…they will punish you forever, because they think punishing YOU will get rid of THEIR pain.

Well, this is something that has occurred to me more than once as I found my gates again. As I found my way back.

But you know what? I thought that there was truth to the fact that I need to be punished for staving off danger. For revealing my boundaries. For showing someone I want them to stop hurting me. I thought something trumped that.

And again, you know what?

Fuck It. And Fuck You. And Fuck those people. And Fuck It All. I honestly don’t care if I sound disobedient, entitled, pissed off, disagreeable, defiant… (because I don’t need to care anymore) about how someone else is going to label it. How someone else is going to hurt me. They can’t fucking do it anymore. I don’t have to give any moments of thought to how selfish, violating, pricks deal with their own shit as a result of encountering mine. I have taken all of the responsibility in the world, including everybody else’s, for others’ reactions to me, for feelings others would have because of what I do or say or feel or let out, and even what I DIDNT do. And everyone can absolutely kiss my fucking ass. I mean all those who would blame me for ruining their day for doing nothing but expressing how I feel. Acting on how I feel. Being exactly who I am when I feel a certain way. Your uncooth shit is all yours. Go eat it, paint with it, shit on it, publish it, cry it out loud, I don’t give a fuck. Because whatever you do, whatever narrow-minded shit you decide to throw at me will bounce right back to you, Bigger, and Messier.

You know what I really think? – now that you know what to do with your shite reactions … I think that using a kid to make your life look worthy of something is a fucking asshole thing to do. I think that living your life with a kid as though the kid is a pet or a doll or a piece of baggage… an almost inanimate object is an asshole thing to do! I think that making your kid feel like shit because their feelings or reactions or bodily processes got in the way of your pathetic plans for your day or your life is an entirely fuckhead asshole thing to do. I think that intimidating your kid as a way to teach them how to ‘behave’ is a fucking numbskulled, asshole, manipulative,entirely abusive and cruel thing to do. I think that getting caught up in your own pissiness and fears and unfinished business enough to threaten your kid’s life (by cutting off their airway or using your adult strength to bruise and traumatize your kid’s little body) is one of the most insanely psychopathic and FuckHead, murderous, illegal, axe-worthy things that you could ever do in this universe. It’s like shooting a gun into the world when you are blind, deaf, and dumb. I think you are a complete cruel asshole fuckhead prick moron coward, shit-for-cells person. I think you are a complete fuckhead if you do all of these things and more and then completely lack the fucking microscopic shred of humanity that it takes to apologize with any dignity and honesty for doing those things, specifically those things (!), when you do decide that you think that maybe you might be able to kind of maybe apologize for “some things” you did.  Oh, YOu “did some things you weren’t proud of”, eh!? I don’t give two or two thousand fucks for those pansy-ass coward words of bullshit. Want to learn what an apology is? No, it doesn’t sound like you do you Fucking Asshole.

I think that your bullshit formula of “moving on and forgetting the past” is a complete fucking cop-out…not only for the person you fucked with, but for you too. If you are too much of a fucking coward to even deal with your own shit with yourself, well you can go fuck yourself. I have no time, energy, or even favorable excretions for that. Show some fucking humanity and at least get in touch with the smallest inkling of a desire to clear your own self of the feelings that made you be such a fucked up, self-absorbed, terrorizing, abusive prickshithead in the first place. You know, you keep on spreading that shit around, even if you have it deeply buried in the bottom of the ‘secrets’ drawer in your mind, your memory, your emotional monsterass chest… And when I feel it, from you, our time will be completely limited, probably most often non-existent. Because there are billions of other molecules of air I can breath in billions of other places for billions of other seconds…and there, I will not have to be near that lying, sliminess you like to pretend that you are entitled to carry around because you are bigger or stronger than me.

And you know what? This is what hurt looks like, sounds like, when you pass it around. Especially when you pass it around to people like your kids who unwittingly accept it from you because they thought that the whole purpose of you, the whole purpose of that behavior was to take care of them, and teach them, and protect them, and affirm them. And you manipulate the situation by serving them shit, fear, a sense of self-worthlessness on a plate instead of honesty and self-reflection and tender caring, and tenderness allround.Fuck you, Fuckheads. Fuck – You.

Who the fuck teaches their own flesh and blood that love feels like Torture…

I Fucking dare you to do it again.

 

Well…This is Something!

So…I’m talking with one of my sponsors today. We’re talking about me making amends to myself and I’m telling her how the little me inside (Little Shantelle) is so quiet and doesn’t want to really talk to me or come out of her hiding place until I’ve gotten my shit together…etc. And my sponsor says…”Is she kind of a brat?!”…with a ‘smart’ or bossy tone. And I just about lost my shit.

I have felt for the long time that I have had to hold my ground with this sponsor, keep subtly reminding her who I am and what my vulnerabilities are so that she will eventually not try to ‘know’ everything about me before she actually knows me. And I was right… To keep my guard up. It has been a good lesson. Calling my inner self a brat, considering everything we have talked about is actually unbelievable. And the biggest gift from it all?

I, all of sudden, was as pissed off and protective of a part of myself as I have been of my little brother, of my ex’s kids, of other people, of kids in general. I laughed kind of, on the phone instead of losing it… I felt like I didn’t say something when I shouldn’t have, but I also felt that it was not worth it to explain something to somebody who would not necessarily be ready to simply be sensitive to my reaction.

I was putting my energy into thinking of every possible reason to defend my Little self. Even though I myself have been impatient and dismissive, and not as sensitive to her as I have needed to be, I have at least come to an understand that I was and am not a brat. I said to my sponsor (trying not to scoff) that “my Inner Shantelle is NOT a ‘brat’ nor has she ever been a ‘brat’!”. Hiding is not misbehaving, and she is not misbehaving because she is hiding!! My Dad treated me like that. He bullied and intimidated and looked down on me when I protected myself and hid or kept my distance when I didn’t trust him, or something or someone…Refusing to come out is NOT being a brat! What the fuck!! When a kid cowers, they don’t deserve to be chastised, or criticized, or called names. Kids do not have many resources. And they do not have a lot of understanding of their resources! They are using what they can the only way they can! If there is an issue with them it is because there is an issue with YOU!

Wow – it is so fucking angering to have my scared Inner self be put in a position where she could be punished for something…AGAIN. The freaks me the hell out. And here I am finally being my own hero. Fuck off people. Do NOT fuck around with my feelings. And do not compromise me for having feelings, for being feeling, and for staying away from YOU because you think there is something wrong with my feelings.

Scared, traumatized kids are not being “bad”. They just don’t yet know how to live in a world in a way that they don’t have to be scared of getting hurt. And my Little S is perfectly fine just as she is. She knows the deal, she’s been through shit hundreds of times and no one has really looked out for her wellbeing. She knows she has been alone. and She knows the safest place is in her quiet little hiding place. And she will know exactly when to come and whether she will give you the time of day when she does. She is the smartest one of the two of us.

So Fuck Off.

 

Tracing Dishonesty and Prerogative

When I was a little kid…between about four and eight years old, I would go off on long forest explorations all by myself. It was a wonderful place, the place where we lived at that time. The little house (it was actually built to be a cottage) was in the woods, a few feet from the ocean water. Evergreen forests, with birch trees, protruding bedrock, carpets of pine needles, and beautifully rich green moss. The amazingness of this wasn’t exceptional for me at the time. It was just there. It was a gift that I felt and lived, but did not think about.

My home had a less natural feel-good feeling. It was less. ‘Being’ at home was confining. Constraining. A place where I felt uncertain, often alert. A place where I was taught to dumb myself down, obscure myself, blend in to the walls, the furniture, the corners of the room.

Outside I would walk through the woods, across the street from my house, and then through the woods again to the ocean on the other side of the peninsula. I could breathe. I could use my energy, my senses, be in such good communication with all that touched me me and that I touched. The beach with the huge rocks, mussels, splashing waves…and I I could scour for crabs, and snails, and different kinds of pebbles, and shells. My best excursion – I took it only once – was up a rock face nearby. I climbed up the side of the rockface itself. These days people do it with climbing equipment. No one could possibly see me (and my 4-year old friend David who I convinced to come along) then. I had packed us a lunch and we made it all the way to the top. We sat on the huge boulder that you could see from 100’s of meters down. I surveyed the space that was mine outside my house and we ate our lunch.

For so long I have asked myself how, at that age, that excursion, and the many others alone in the woods near the ocean, could and still do feel so…fine for me. I was not trying to deceive. I was also not trying to hurt myself. I was going as far as I could to find freedom. Freedom from a more vicious, more damaging, more hurtful danger.

Today I was chatting with a friend about some of my personal inventory – it’s specifically about honesty right now. I was trying to answer questions such as “what did you lie about as a child?”, and “who did you lie to?”, and “what were the consequences of the lies you told?” Not so long ago I had answered a lot of the questions, and the answers were things like, “I lied about taking candy from my Dad’s side table” and “I lied about how much I knew about the dirty movies in the cupboard” and “I lied about how far I went into the forest and whether I went close to the ocean”.

With these answers, I now realize, I was playing into the trap, the trap that my secret excursions, my ‘dishonesty’ was possibly always about me defying, or deceiving someone, or about my mischievousness. Playing into the story that as children what we do is about obeying or disobeying our parents or authority figures. And into the story that as kids, when we do something we are ‘not allowed’ to do, or when we do something or know something past our age or supposed level of feeling or comprehension it is wrong.

Recently I tried answering the questions again. And the answers came to me differently. The lies I told were lies of omission. I didn’t reveal to my parents what I knew, what I understood, how I felt, or what I was doing. And my decisions and my actions were the prerogatives of a girl like me.

I learned at a very young age that my mother was not protecting me from people that would hurt me. By the time I was three years old I was around a man who I knew I had to be scared of. My mother was not aware of that, nor aware of me, my reactions, or my feelings. She married him. Over the next few years this man would get angry with me if I displeased him somehow and beat me with a bamboo switch. If I cried because he scared me he would also get angry with me. One night, at story time, he tried to smother me with a pillow so that my mother wouldn’t hear me getting upset. I couldn’t breathe. His face was a monster’s. At about five years old I was molested by the boy next door. He walked me into the woods and tried to get me to put his penis in my mouth. At nine years old I was molested by another boy next door, who up until that time I had trusted like a big brother. At 13 I became interested in the ‘bad boy’ that lived nearby. When he found out he  took me down to the end of the street and tried to get into my pants. At 14, my 23 year-old swim coach seduced me. He was engaged to be married at the time, but within our first couple of months ‘hanging out’ I would have sex for the first time. Our relationship continued to his marriage and on still for about three years. Soon after that I tried to seduce my driving instructor – he was 29. I lingered after him for a couple of years, slept around a little through high school, university… Lingered after other guys…for the attention…and to figure out what it meant to get control of my life. All of this, like the climb up the side of the rock face, because it was safer ‘out there’ than it was at home. I felt more in control of my own care and my own life climbing up a rock face as a kid. I felt safer risking myself in situations like these than being a daughter.

That is was I learned to feel as a young, young girl.

When I would explore the woods alone, and go on these independent adventures, it was because I was learning that I could save myself from adventures that I put MYSELF in. Not situations that others did.

Control.

Up until so recently, I had continued to put myself in relationships that were dangerous, iffy, risky…because I wanted over and over again to prove to myself that I could ‘get myself out safely’. I was “keeping my enemies closer.”

And now I want to change this life.

What does one do instead of create challenges, instead of resolve challenges that one has created for oneself?

Her Control

This is what it looks like:

My Outer Child is blinded by the idea that she needs to ‘survive’. And every day her obstinance feels overpowering. She will not let me live. She keeps me in bed after I wake up because she is scared that punishment is waiting for her. She tries to get stimulation and happy feelings from online because people outside are too unpredictable and even dangerous. She has an absolute freak-out when I let people into our lives, our space, our time and those people abuse the opportunity. She is so on edge.

She avoids anxiety by going back to the slave-kid routine; doing the dishes, doing the laundry, putting things away, trying to please others in the smallest ways in order to get drips and drabs of attention.

She panics. She retreats. She buries herself… She imagines how things could go well, feel better, improve…but waits instead of acting. And she holds onto my leg as I try to get ready to go out to enjoy something. She is afraid for me. Afraid for us.

She refuses to allow me to get a job that is not ‘the perfect job NOW’. She threatens to make things difficult if a plan doesn’t already have a positive outcome…before execution.

Outer child screams at my ex when he has done the same thing over and over.
She rationalizes spending money when I do not have an income.
She gives in to the taste of unhealthy sweet things — she whispers sweet nothings into my ear so I won’t limit myself.
She makes me turn around and go home instead of taking the long walk I planned, because she’s tired or fed up or feeling like no one will like her.
She tells me stories about how people don’t appreciate her.
She uses expressions of disapproval to control me and other people.
She loves when people rave about how much she has survived, how strong and wise she is given what she has made it through…
She tricks people into trusting that she is accepting by being agreeable at the outset.
Outer drags me from task to task when I am trying to focus on one thing.
She points to other people’s mistakes so that she doesn’t have to look at the gaps she’s left in her own stuff.
Denial is meteorological consistency in her life. “Why feel worried about things you should be worried about?! No one else does…!”

Shall I go on…

What Lies Between

For about a week now I have been meaning to sit down and write about a very unexpected realization.

I have read a lot of books and listened to a lot of talks and done a lot of exercises and begun new healthy and mindful habits in these past 3-4 years… And whenever I think I have gotten to the end of my resources…that there might be nothing else to help cross this last distance to get back to ‘me’, I am presented with another insight.

I didn’t expect Susan Anderson’s ‘Outer Child‘ to be helpful because I was afraid that it was just another layer, another piece of work, another piece to add to the overwhelm of how much work I need to do, another thing to remember as I creep through confusing or difficult days… But even just reading the intro to her book was revelatory and even freeing for me.

As I have gotten closer to my ‘inner child’, to ‘seeing’ her, feeling her, listening to her…I have noticed this hard presence inside, an obstinate presence, a woundedness, a constant complaining pain that I can not ever seem to get a break from…like in bad dreams when I am trying to move but can not. The deeper I go the louder the pain is. I have not been able to get really close to Inner Me. Something inside is…wary of comforting my Inner child, dishonest, feeling ill-equipped… Even angry, resentful, like an abandoned dog that is so scared all it can do is snap and growl.

As Anderson’s book, “Taming Your Outer Child” began to describe Outer Child behaviors…my behaviors…I was able to attribute those behaviors to a part of me that I have a really difficult time with, that I am driven by but do not feel in control of…I know it is not my inner child doing those things because she is too young. She doesn’t care about money, or other people, or logistics. I know that my inner child is just sitting quietly, pretty much always just waiting for attention and for me to create a safe, welcoming place for her to come out and play and love innocently. She is behaving herself in the corner of my mind.

The books asks, “What makes you break your diet, or run up your credit card, or be attracted to the wrong people? You know these aren’t healthy things to do, you know you’re sabotaging your own interest, but sometimes you just can’t help it!”

I know that my adult self is not doing these self-sabotaging things, but she is letting it happen. She is feeling overrun…tired, like she wants to give up because there is too much of a mess to clean up, too many chores to do all by herself, and she doesn’t know how to take control of her own self under demanding circumstances… [sounds like my mother]. My adult self didn’t learn to be a mom. Didn’t learn to listen to her ‘responsible’, mature inner voice… She followed my mother’s lead. No information on how to be an adult in my house. On how to take control of things that I am responsible for. My mother passed responsibility on to her daughter…to me.

And, what stands in the way of my taking responsibility for my life is my Outer Child! My having deferred to the growing girl who seemed so ‘mature for her age’, so intelligent. In my mind she is that part of me who by the age of 9 was saddled with too much responsibilities, had so much baggage from her early years, and had developed ways to keep her feelings and other people at a distance so that she could please the volatile people around her and still TRY to be a kid. My Outer Child is me in what is usually referred to as that 2nd cycle of life, from the age of 7-14. For me she is a little girl who learned that she had to be an adult but did not teach her personal responsibility or accountability. My Outer Shantelle learned to freestyle it; take what she thought worked and use it. She had been learning that she was the only person who cared about her feelings, her health, her experiences of the world, but she was still reeling from the loneliness, disappointment, impossible struggles that come with trying to be a self-sufficient person when you are dependent on people who are not dependable, trustworthy… She has gone off the deep end at this point — gotten so caught up in trying to manage my life, my adult life, and I have let her. And she has gone crazy, and her opportunities for play and growth were left behind…

[don’t laugh — I always wondered why, for the longest time, I was so interested in watching Supernanny…]

Yes, my Outer Child is a pretty capable little person, but she has had no routine, no practice or opportunities to truly focus on her own processes. She has been overwhelmed with fullfilling the unrealistic expectations of others (which became her own), and baggage that no one noticed she needed help with. She thinks she is supposed to carry it all, and she thinks that in order to get through life you can not allow learning, feeling, playing to come first. If you do you will die. If you do someone will think you do not have what it takes to make it in this hard world. You will disappoint and not be rewarded even the small bits of praise that you have received in the past.

My Outer Child is my next focus. Even before getting into Anderson’s book I know these key things. That I, as the adult Shantelle,
1) must take responsibility off of Outer Shantelle’s shoulders.
2) I must allow Outer Shantelle the freedom to play and explore, learn at her own pace…no rushing her or calling her home to do work that is not hers…
3) I must also give her caring and consistent guidelines and structure – limits that will keep her safe, AND limits that will not saddle her with undue guilt or anxiety. I am the one who is responsible for HER. And I am teaching her how to be responsible for herself, slowly, kindly, explicitly, consistently…

You know those unruly tweens/teens…? That’s what I have my hands full with for the near future… My own personal responsibility, and patience, guidance, and love for an unruly tween… No longer will she lie between me and Inner Shantelle, she will be able to be who she was meant to be, and be happy with us.