October 15th, 2012


Having My Shit Really Together

Today has been a rough one. And the extent to which I don't want to is probably a sign I should try to work through some stuff by writing about it.

Last night Keith, who is a bloody hero, put up this post at Public Address, in a piece of journalism that's not only excellent but almost certainly life-saving. I read it just before going to bed, and it put me in a hell of a state. This morning I hit it up again, and wrote a comment trying to express my 'issues'. Basically, the core of Keith's column is that the Ministry of Social Development (in charge of what's generally known as "social welfare") has a system which, if you poke around, makes personal information about 'clients' available to the public. That includes location information about children who've been victims of abuse. Here's my comment:

I read this column last night, and had to go to bed and have a wee cry. And it wasn't just because my daughter's had dealings with Youth Specialty Service that involved funded counselling and drugs.

I was one of those kids. For two years in the 70s, my family was in hiding from my father. He had access rights: on one of those visits he managed to trick me into telling him where we were living (I was six, okay), and we had to move. I had to change schools. The very information Keith has detailed here, which would have been on Social Welfare's files about us, would have been sufficient for my dad to at least find my school and wait for me. He could have used me to find my home, and my mother. She could have died.

If we were in that situation now, all he'd need is some unsupervised time on a kiosk, and the technical knowledge to open a file in Word.

And then I went and had a shower and cried.

For a very long time - like, until the last few years - I honestly wasn't aware that I still had issues around the violence and abuse I witnessed and suffered as a child. Kids just bounce back, right? And it was all a very long time ago, over and done. I should be past it.

A few years back, Karl and I were watching an episode of Child of Our Time that featured a child from an abuse household. His mother had left her boyfriend, was in hiding, they had to do things like obscure the logo on his school uniform when they filmed him and conceal where they were living. And gradually, I ended up curled in a fetal ball on the end of the couch, completely stressed. I couldn't cope.

I react very strongly to depictions of abuse. I over-react to being shouted at. Some of the stresses of the last couple of years, for reasons I can't openly talk about, have made this reaction worse. There's a term for this, of course: it's "being triggered". But that's for people who've suffered really horrific things, right? For people with PTSD. Not me. 

I have seen my GP a number of times this year, in very stressful circumstances. Once, she raised some concerns that led to us talking about what I'd seen in my childhood and the effect it was still having on me. She said counselling would probably help, but of course we can't afford to pay for it. She asked me, obviously hating to do so, if any of the abuse had been sexual. Then, I might be entitled to funding. It was awful.

So it seems I don't really have any choice but to be skating across this ice, never quite knowing when all this is going to surface again and turn me into an unfunctional idiot. It's not just me, of course: the gathering of my family when my mother died was a Carnival of Dysfunction. And none of us talk about it, not ever.

Tomorrow will be a bit better. (Well, actually it'll be bloody stressful because we have to fight with the Ministry of Education. But that's a whole separate shit-fight.) And in a couple of days I'll be okay again. But that terrified child never quite goes away, and I am so tired of being a slave to her.