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Good For Me

I need to be happier for myself when I succeed. So I'm going to try that today. Today I had a final in my class Energy Generation & Environmental Impact. I did not study as long as I had planned to but I'm not going to be mad at myself for that, especially since I knew everything on the final. Of course, only the questions where I had to do math, I may have screwed it all up. I'm almost certain that I got the first one wrong because the answer I got was absurd. However, I could not think of any other way to do the problem and I checked my math over and over. Oh well, so I probably got that one wrong but I'm not upset about it. The second question was also a math question but there is a much better chance that I did that one right. The answer seemed reasonable (I think). And I also tried to think of any other ways the problem could be attempted and I checked my math over and over and I was satisfied that I answered the question to the best of my ability. The last question on the test was a two part question, the first part was straight forward-- no math required. The second part required you to do math. There is a very good chance that I got the math part of the question wrong but once again, I couldn't think of any other way of doing it and the arithmetic checked out. So I'll have to let it go. I am happy to say though that I am completely confident that I got every other question right. I was in such a good mood while taking the exam because the answers were just flowing out of me and in wonderfully concise sentences. I am tempted not to guess at the grade I got, so as not to get my hopes up but I think I easily cleared a B+. Realistically, I think I got an A- and maybe even an A. But I'll be decidedly happy with a B+. So now I am going to do something I usually never do and pat myself on the back. Normally, I am extremely demanding and harsh on myself but I have decided that I am going to stop that. From this day on, I will delight in my successes and give myself a break when I don't do as well as I wanted to. Come to think of it, I rarely don't do as well as I planned on doing so I don't know why I beat myself up so much when it comes to school. I know I am an excellent student and I will go far in life. It feels good to say that. I need to remind myself of that more often.

Sincerely,
Sara J.

Vicious Cycle

So my father is coming to pick me up on Wednesday to take me back home to Pa. I am not happy about it at all. Funny thing is, my mother says that he suggested it. Why? Why would he want to? I don't know why, but for some reason, he tries to have a relationship with me. We don't get along, at all. I am generally pissed at him for everything he has put me and my family through and so most of the time I try to avoid him. When I can't avoid him, I try not to talk to him. When I have to talk to him, I keep our conversation to a minimum. This really angers him. He can't understand for the life of him why I don't like him. So he gets angry, like always. Anger is pretty much the only emotion he is capable of, I have concluded. He gets angry at me for avoiding him and not wanting to talk to him. So why doesn't he just avoid me? Why won't he let me take the bus home so neither of us has to endure the long car ride home from NYC to Mountain Top, Pa? Why does he want to be in a car with me for two and a half hours when he knows I am not going to talk to him? Is he just so dumb and naive that he thinks that this time it will be different? It's never different. It's always the same, with everything. Anything with my family is always the same and yet all of us are always hoping for something different. It will never be different. I have realized this long ago and so I have given up. I avoid because I know that regardless of what I do, nothing is going to change it. My brother has come to this realization as well but he has a completely different approach. He thought is more, "Well, this is as good as it's going to get, so I may as well make the best of it." My thought is, "This is as good as it's going to get and it's not good enough for me. I don't deserve this abuse and I refuse to endure it." My brother handles being home better, though. For him, "being home" means out somewhere in NEPA with his friends. It doesn't mean at home with the family. When I go home, I tend to stay home. This must be why going home is worse for me. My brother is never there to endure or witness the abuse. He just isn't there, ever. If I could get over my depression I could go out more when I am home. But I'm depressed which just makes me want to stay in my room all day. It prevents me from wanting to go anywhere. So I stay home wallowing in my depression while my family makes me more depressed. It's a vicious cycle, really.

Planning For The Spring Semester

    First off, in reference to my last post: I saw my therapist on Friday. She did ask me about missing my last appointment and I told her that I was in transit during the time of our appointment because I had forgotten about the appointment entirely. She said okay as though she understood but didn't seem totally convinced that I was telling the truth. I can't blame her. It did come across as though I was ducking her and I was expecting her to believe that. But nonetheless, she moved on pretty quickly and it wasn't all that awkward.
    So I recently came to the realization that I am going to fail my stats class. I decided that I was going to have to withdraw from the class as a result. I wanted to find out if I could get a medical withdrawal on the basis that my depression has caused my to fall behind in my schoolwork (which it really has). So I posted in the community "crazy_academics" here on livejournal to ask about how to obtain a medical withdrawal from a class. Some helpful people there told me to go to the disability services office and inquire about it there. So on Thursday that's what I did. I spoke to a very helpful woman there who had me register with the disability services office. I so I did that and she made a phone to put the withdrawal in motion. All I needed to do was to have my psychologist (my therapist at the counseling center) fill out a form saying that I have depression and the medication I'm on for it, etc. and sign it and return it to the disability services office. So when I went to my appointment with my therapist on Friday, this is what we discussed.
    So I started off the appointment by bringing up how I have been horribly depressed lately and how I had stopped doing all of my school assignments and stopped going to my classes (except for one, because I really like that class and because it's pretty easy). I told her that I had at first only done this with my stats class and as a result I was doing the worst in that class. In fact, I am on track to fail it. I told her that it was for this reason that I went to the disability services to obtain a medical withdrawal. So we discussed my depression for the whole session. I had really been in denial about being depressed. I didn't even want to admit it myself so I had been denying that I was depressed to my therapist. She said that she felt glad that I was able to finally admit it. She said she thought that I had stopped doing my school work in order to somehow cry out for help or something. I think she may be right. For about the week and a half after being back in NYC after Thanksgiving break I didn't go to class or do anything school related. I didn't even participate in any social activities. I only left my room once or twice a day to get something to eat at one of the dining halls. I didn't even shower for that entire 10 day period. It was pathetic. I guess I really wanted someone to notice. I could no longer bring myself to care about school (as a result of my depression) so I think I wanted someone to notice that I was depressed. It didn't really work with anyone, other than my therapist, who I could have told about it without screwing up in all my classes. That's all I did was sabotage myself. And now all I have to show for it is a W on my transcript and some bad grades in my other classes as well. At least I have come to terms with my depression and now I, as well as others, will take it more seriously.
    At the end of my session with my therapist, we negotiated the plan for next semester. I originally came in to talk with my therapist just to discuss joining a support group through the counseling center for students with alcoholic and substance-abusing parents. We had decided to meet one-on-one for this semester and I would participate in the group next semester because I was very nervous about having to talk about family issues in front of other people. I still cannot talk about my family issues with breaking down and crying and I am still afraid of breaking down like that in front of other people. My therapist assured me that the others in the group would be very understanding. She really wants me to join the group next semester, as planned but like I said, I am very nervous about it. She also said that she would like me to continue to meet with a psychologist outside of the counseling center in order to continue to work on my issues. Next week she is going to give me a few names of psychologists in the area. The counseling center only provides short term counseling for free. After that, they refer you to a therapist outside the center for you to continue therapy, if you need it. I am very nervous about the idea of meeting a new therapist. I feel like I got very lucky with the therapist I have now because she is extremely understanding and she seems knowledgeable about the issues I have. I am afraid that I will not be able to find another therapist that I can trust as easily as I can trust my current therapist. I also have a lot of anxiety when meeting and getting to know new people so I am afraid that I won't even see anyone long enough to be able to trust them so I'll just sabotage myself. I hope I can find a really good therapist because seeing my current therapist has made me realize just how badly I need therapy. I also hope that I will have the courage to attend and open up to the support group next semester. *Fingers crossed*

Sincerely,
Sara J.

How to Duck Your Therapist

  So I missed my appointment with my therapist on Monday because I am an idiot. I knew that I had an appointment on Monday back home in Pa with my podiatrist. For some reason, I thought that it was in the morning, or at least early in the afternoon. But it wasn't it was at 4:00pm. That meant that I had to take the 6:10pm bus back to NYC. I didn't get back to my dorm until 9:30pm. While I was standing in line for the bus I suddenly remembered that I had made an appointment with my therapist for 6:00pm that day. I looked at my phone and it was 5:58pm. Yikes. I thought, "I should call." The problem is I have this weird anxiety about talking on the phone, especially when I have to tell someone over the phone something that they're not going to want to hear. I knew she would understand. Even if she were mad, she wouldn't show it. It's her job to make me feel better, not worse. But I would've felt worse if she had said something like, "Well, I'm disappointed that you can't make it." Or if she made even expression of disappointment in me at all. I can't take that. I'm too much of a people-pleaser to handle that. So I just didn't call. I knew I would feel even worse when I eventually did talk to her but it didn't matter. I was too afraid to call. I knew it would happen but to my horror I got a call from her at 6:30pm while I was on the bus. I didn't answer it. I was too afraid. I was surprised to see that she didn't leave a message. I figured she would send me a secure message through the Health Center's website.
  When I got home I read the secure message. This is what it read:

"Hi Sara,

I noticed you missed your appointment today with me and wanted to check in and see how you are doing. I would be happy to reschedule with you for another time. Please either call me at 212-XXX-XXXX or contact the front desk at 212-XXX-XXXX to make an appointment.

Take care,

XXXX XXXXXX XXXXX, Ph.D."

I was very surprised to see no expression of disappointment. Nothing bad at all. I had no reason to contact her, except for my anxiety about talking on the phone. I was hoping she would tell me to simply reply to that message via the site. I didn't call.
  She called me again on Wednesday at 9:08am. I was asleep. I woke up and looked at my phone. I was horrified to see her number. I didn't answer it. I don't know why. I guess by that time I was afraid that it was all too obvious that I was ducking her. So I continued to duck her, naturally. She said in the voice message she left me that she knew that I had an appointment (regarding medication management) with another Dr. S that day at 10:30am. She said that she would try to see me when I came in then. "Fuck," was my first thought. It wasn't that I didn't want to talk to her in person, it was that I had to reschedule that appointment and I was going to go in early to do so (I had biology lab at 11:00am and so I wouldn't be able to attend an hour appointment beginning at 10:30am. When I scheduled that appointment originally, I had forgotten all about Wednesday biology labs.) So I wouldn't be there at 10:30am. It would seem as though I were ducking her even more than it already did. I rescheduled the medication management appointment for Friday and the appointment with my therapist for the following Friday.
  On Friday I had the rescheduled appointment regarding my medication. It was less than helpful. I didn't care for the woman I saw. Apparently the woman I had seen previously (Dr. S)no longer worked there; the day I had my appointment scheduled with her was to be her last day. It's a shame because I really liked her. Anyway, as I walked with this new psychologist to her office we passed my therapist's office. She was in there. Damn. She came out when I passed by. She said, "Hi Sara!" cheerfully. I turned around and said, "Oh, Hi." I tried to say it without seeming at all awkward. I think I still was. That was the extent of our exchange. So here I am. My therapist believes I am ducking her. I'm positive that she must believe that. I am ducking her, but I have no idea why at this point. It's just awkward. The whole situation is awkward. I have no idea how I will explain it to her at my next appointment. I cannot even explain it clearly here, written down. It's sure to be awkward. Everything in my life is always awkward and I do it to myself. I should have called her when I realized that I was going to miss the appointment. My fear of the awkwardness of talking on the phone prevented me from doing so. So now I am stuck in a much, much more awkward situation. Why am I so awkward?

Happy Thanksgiving? Hardly.

I knew coming back home for Thanksgiving would be hard but I'm really having a tough time. I guess I should start at the beginning. So on Wednesday I was getting ready to leave to get the bus at the Port Authority to come home. Just before I left I got a phone call from my brother. He asked where I was and I told him that I was still at my dorm. He told me in a tone that really made me angry, "Well, you better leave now. The bus leaves soon. Hurry up." I said, "Okay" in the same tone back to him. I knew I was running late and I was already anxious about it. That phone call really did me in for some reason though. I was completely freaking out on the way to Port Authority thinking that I would be late. I think I was more concerned about angering my brother than actually missing the bus, since they have buses about every 20 minutes so I could have just taken the next one if I missed the one I had planned on taking. I think it was the people-pleasing in me that made me so nervous about angering my brother. My brother can be an ass sometimes. He lashes out at me sometimes. That's exactly what he did when I arrived at Port Authority. I arrived to find that there was no line for the bus. There was just my brother sitting there with his stuff. I was quite angered by the fact that I had rushed to get there, as per his request. By the way he told me to "Hurry up" I figured that there was already a line or something. So I'll admit, I was angry and I threw my stuff down next to him. "What's wrong with you?" he said.
"I feel like shit and I busted my ass to get here!" I replied.
"Well that's not my problem" he said.
"You're the one that told me to hurry up and there isn't even a line!!"
We went back and forth arguing for a few times. Then, almost out of nowhere, he went off on me for telling my mother that I didn't want my father to pick me up. He ended up telling me that it was my fault that my father drank. He said I was the reason because I treated him like shit. I tried to defend myself saying that my father always treated me like shit and he doesn't deserve my love. My father wouldn't here any of it. He denied that my father had ever done anything to me. Most of the time my brother was not there to witness the abuse. He was always either working or out with friends when he was in high school and then once he left for college the abuse increased and he didn't see any of that. Although he did see a lot of it and experienced a lot too so I could not understand why he was denying it now. He told me off in front of everyone in Port Authority. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore and I got up and left. I walked away where he couldn't see me and sat down and cried. After about 10 minutes I got a phone call from him telling me that I better come back because the bus was going to arrive soon. I got up and went back, reluctantly. When I got back, surprisingly enough, my brother apologized to me. He said he was wrong to blame me for my father's alcoholism. It still hurt. We had a 10 minute heart-to-heart right there in Port Authority. My brother, for the first time, talked about how he was angry at our father for a long time. He said that he now has a good relationship with our father now because since going to college he found the ability to do that. He told me that there are things that both my father and I could do to better our relationship. I wasn't interested in hearing that, though. I told him that I wanted to focus on me, for once. I told him I was finally getting help for myself and I didn't want to deal with all the drama in our family. I told him that that's why I wanted our mom to pick me up, because I didn't want to deal with my father.
  Even though my brother apologized, I still felt very hurt that he blamed me for my father's drinking. I don't think he would have said it if he didn't believe it at least a little. That is the same thing my father does though. He will verbally abuse me and say awful things to me and then apologize a little while later. I am so sick of hearing empty apologies that don't add up to anything. The behavior is always repeated no matter how many times they say "I'm sorry." I am so sick of it.
  Today I am having a hard time so far. I woke up to the sound of my father screaming at the very small puppy we have now. He was also hitting her very hard-- too hard. She is only a tiny thing and he was taking his anger out on her. That poor puppy. Apparently she had gone to the bathroom in the house and he was "punishing" her for it. That's what he calls it. Really, it's him making an excuse to take his anger out on someone. That's what he always does. I can't stand to see the puppy go through that so I was so angered. That, and the fact that he knew that I was sleeping but was still screaming at the top of his lungs not far from my bedroom. If anyone else did that while he was sleeping all hell would break loose. But it's fine for him to do it because he can do whatever he wants without any consequences. Eventually, a little while after he had stopped yelling, I got up and went to the bathroom and afterward I took the puppy first outside and then into my room. It is obvious that my father is angry today, just in general. Aside from abusing the puppy, I could also hear him yelling at my mom about something. I hope I can avoid him for the rest of the day. That's the only way I can stay out of the line of fire. Also, because I am angry now too about what he did to the puppy, I will not be a good victim. I am afraid I will argue back at him if he yells at me. The best thing I can do is just to take it. If I argue back it will greatly aggravate the situation. *sigh* I can't wait to get back to school so I don't have to deal with this.
    Yesterday, I went to Barnes & Noble to look for books about adult children of alcoholics. I was pleased to find a very good book called, "Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics." I read the first two chapters of this book and was very pleased with it. I would have bought it, if only I had any money right now. It'll have to wait, unfortunately. While I was looking for books on this topic though, I also came across the book, "A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer. I had heard about this book before but had never read it. I took one from the shelf and added it to the pile I planned to sit down and flip through. Once I got to the book, I opened to a random page and began reading. I was immediately shocked and enthralled. I read a small part in the David's ("it's") mother forced him to swallow a spoonful of ammonia. It was horrid; I couldn't believe what I was reading.
    I decided after reading that short excerpt that I needed to start again at the beginning. Before flipped back to the beginning though, a memory from my childhood came back to me. I don't know exactly what it was about reading the excerpt from the book that triggered it. Perhaps I was looking to find some event from my childhood that I could relate to what I had just. Granted, my childhood was no where near as horrific as David's was. I remembered the time that I was swinging outside on our swing-set with my brother. I was in second grade at the time and my brother and I were having some sort of argument. It was sort of a play argument; we weren't really mad at one another. We we were just debating about something I like. But for some reason I wasn't wearing any shoes at the time. I was completely barefoot and so it hurt when I tried to stop the swing and get off. I did overreact; I will admit but it was my father who would have the biggest overreaction of all to this. As soon as I screamed, he stormed out of the house, headed straight toward me and picked me up by the neck. He proceeded to strangle me while yelling at me for not wearing shoes outside. I figured that he must have been sleeping. He slept all the time and at strange hours when he was home because he was a truck driver and he drove long distances all over the country. I never saw him angrier as a child than when someone had woken him from his sleep.
    There is something strange about this memory though. There was more to it. It occurred on a weekend and on the Friday before, I had received a note home from school about my bad behavior. This happened to me quite frequently in second grade. This time though, when the teacher gave me the note, it was the end of the day and I just sat down at my desk and began to cry. All of the other students were already lined up and ready to go home when the teacher noticed me still sitting at my desk with tears rolling down my cheeks. She asked me why I was crying. Without thinking, I blurted out, "My father said that if I get another note sent home he is gonna break one of my bones!" I was shocked at what I had did. I had never told a sole before about the abuse or the threats. The teacher froze and it was clear that she was shocked too. It was true. The last time I received a note home from school, my father told me that if I ever received another one that he was going to break one of my bones. The teacher hurried me off to my bus without asking anymore questions. At the time of the strangling incident, my parents did not yet know about the note. I always hid them under my dresser for a few days before my teacher would call my parents to ask if they had gotten it. I was then yelled by my parents to get the note and then screamed at by my father for my bad behavior in school as well as for the hiding the note. I don't remember how the strangling incident ended though. I just remember dangling in the air, not being able to breathe. The next thing I remember was being in my parents' bathroom the following Monday morning before school. My mother was putting make-up on me because I had cuts and bruises all over my face. She told me to tell anyone that asked that I had gotten the cuts and bruises by falling off my bike. I couldn't understand what motivation she had for telling me to do this. I remember feeling relieved though that I had an excuse, endorsed by my mother, for what had happened to me. I didn't want to feel the shame and embarrassment of telling people that my father had hurt me. I also knew that it would be disastrous if my father ever found out that I had told someone.
    That day in school, my teacher called me over to her desk while the class was working quietly. She asked me where the cuts and bruises came from on my face. I told what my mother had told me to say, that I fell off of my bike. She then asked me if my parents had ever hurt me. I lied. In a timid voice I said, "Umm, no." The upward infliction I put on the word no made it sound more like a question. In a way, it was. I was asking her if she believed my answer. She did. She told me to go sit back down. She never asked me about it again. No teacher before or since did either.
    No one ever knew what was going on in my household. After I successfully lied to my second grade teacher, I realized that I could lie to anyone. All I had to do was lie and no one would ever have to find out. I was always in fear that someone would find out and either my father would go to jail or I would be taken away from my family. I wanted to be taken away from my father but I loved my mother dearly and wanted to stay with her. Though even at that age, somehow I knew that my mother would never leave my father. She still hasn't and it has been eleven years since I was in second grade. It was either he go to jail and our family be torn apart and it all be blamed on me for telling, or I would be taken away from my family and sent to live with someone I didn't know. I was equally afraid of either option. None of my friends ever knew and they still don't. No one outside of my immediate family knows other than my therapist. I still feel somewhat embarrassed and ashamed of it but I a little part of me also wants everyone to find out so that my father will be shamed. He deserves to finally bear the consequences of his own actions for once instead of the rest of the family doing it for him.
    I feel incredibly sad when I think about this whole series of events. I realize the extent to which my mother helped to cover-up, quite literally, all signs of abuse. I realize how bad the abuse really was. I don't remember how I got the cuts and bruises that were on my face but I know they were from my father. I clearly remember the strangling from which I got bruises on my neck. I also remember clearly how I so easily fooled my second grade teacher into believing that nothing was wrong. I think she too readily wanted to believe this so she willingly accepted my answer immediately when I lied to her. I am almost in disbelief now when I think about the course of events. I cried when I received a note from the teacher. I told my teacher that my father had threatened me with violence. The next school day I came with visible signs of abuse. And she accepted that nothing was wrong. What a shame. She could have put an end to it, or at least tried. I remember feeling so scared when she asked me those questions. My body was shaking and my voice was too. One more question and I probably would have cracked. But she didn't ask anymore questions. She just heard the answers she wanted to her and then let it go. It was the closest I had ever been to getting help from outside my family. Part of my wanted to tell because I wanted that help but the other part of me was too afraid of my father.
    Thankfully, I no longer feel this way. I am no longer so afraid of my father. There is still some of that fear in me. My father did his best to carve it into me permanently. He succeeded to an extent. But now the desire to get help has become stronger than that fear. I recently reached out and I am now in therapy. The process is painfully slow but at least I am beginning the process early in my adult life. That's how I see it.

Sincerely,
Sara J.

The Two Voices in My Head

I am an angry person. I hate myself for being an angry person. I am no better than my father whom is the worst person in the world. I want to cut open my arms and bleed to death because I deserve it. I hate myself almost as much as I hate my father. I hate other people. No one else can understand me. Everyone else can cope life just fine. I can't seem to get it together and cope with normal life events. I want to torture myself for this. I deserve it so being such a tremendous failure. I don't deserve happiness. I don't deserve to live. I don't deserve therapy or to get well. I deserve to die slowly and painfully. The world lets me off easy so I have to punish myself. I can't let myself be complacent. That will only lead to failure because my standards will slip and I will have no self-discipline. Everyone else is better than me. I am just scum. I'm going to kill myself. I really am. I mean it. I don't deserve life and I can't deal with it so I would rather die. Fuck everyone. No one cares about me. No one will miss me. No one will notice that I am gone. If they do, they will be glad. I was only a nuisance wasting resources that would be better utilized by someone else who is better. If I die I fail. If I live I fail. I may as well die. It would hurt less.

I am so sad. I am so sad that these thoughts cross my mind. I don't give myself a chance. It takes time to get better. It takes too long. When will I feel better? When will the anti-depressants do their job? I don't want to feel like this. I want to be happy. I have reasons to be happy. I am going to a good school. I can and will succeed. Like I always do eventually. I will suffer setbacks along the way but they will not cause me to fail. I will overcome them. I am strong and I know that I can because I have in the past. I have it better now. I have many more reasons to be happy now. I don't need anything else than what I have. I love my life. I love myself. I don't want to die. I want to live and I want to be happy. I can be happy. I deserve to be happy. I haven't been happy enough in my life. I deserve more. I can have more. Why not? I am extremely successful. I have accomplished so much. I don't need to accomplish any more. I have already done enough. Anything extra is just a bonus. I am proud of myself. Others should be inspired by me. I am a good person. I am a great person. Others should look up to me. I am a role model. I love me. Everyone loves me. I am so kind and giving. I take nothing from anyone. I always consider others feelings before mine. I don't consider my own feelings enough. I deserve more me time. I deserve to have self-esteem. I love life. My past is the past. It doesn't have to dictate my future. I will think positively. I will be a happy and positive person. Yes, I will. I deserve bliss.

I wish that second voice in my head, the one saying good things were louder but it gets drowned out by the negative one. I can't hear the positive one at all. I only hear the negative one on a daily basis. I will try my hardest to change this. I will try-- no, I WILL BE positive. I will pat myself on the back. I will be happy for myself. I will not compare myself to others. I will be happy just being me. From now on, I will do this.

Love,
Sara J.

Third Therapy Session

Tomorrow I have my third therapy session. I am nervous about it for some reason. I'm not exactly sure why. I think it's what she assigned me last week. She told me to write down an occasion when I thought about my father and what triggered the memory. I decided to use the time this week when I was thinking about the new puppy my mom is getting. That made me think about the time my father discovered that my dog, Brocks, who has since died, had chewed up this plastic drain tube thing that was on the side of our house. My father was drunk at the time and decided as punishment for him chewing the tube that he would throw rocks (big rocks) at his head. My dog of course retreated to his dog house. My father then proceeded to throw large rocks into his dog house. I was absolutely horrified. Brocks was a good dog. He was a great dog, in fact. I don't know why he chewed that tube. It was completely out of character for him. But he did and he endured a lot of pain for it. 'Way too much pain' doesn't even begin to describe it. It was awful. I felt so bad for Brocks and I was terrified that my father would crush his skull with one of those big rocks. It seemed like that was his intention-- to kill him. But somehow, he didn't. That was not the only time my father abused my dogs. He did it many, many times. It saddens me to think of all the pain and fear that my dogs have experienced at the hands of my father. Next comes the anger. I am soooo angry at my father for doing that to my dogs. My dogs were always there for me when I was scared or hurting. They seemed to understand. They did. Even if they didn't realize what I was feeling at the time and didn't have the capacity to empathize. We went through the same things and we supported each other through it all. So it killed me and pissed me off to see my father hurt those wonderful dogs that were completely helpless and innocent. But that's the story of my life. I have felt a ton more pain and anger in my life than any other emotion. Especially happiness. I feel like I am always talking myself into being happy. Like if I just tell myself that I am happy, it will come true. It works well enough to get me from day to day, so far. I don't think I have ever felt true happiness though. It's always forced and I want that to end. I just had my dose of effexor increased so maybe that will help. I am hoping that this therapy will help but so far it hasn't. How long will it take? I know it will take more than three sessions, of course. But I don't see how I can ever get past my childhood. I have just now realized that it was messed up. *sigh*
Below is something I got from About.com alcoholism.about.com/cs/adult/a/aa110597.htm
This isn't the first time I have seen a list of questions like this. I don't remember where exactly I first saw it, probably the al-anon website which they refer to in the intro. to this. I answered yes to almost every one of these questions. This deeply saddens me.

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Growing up in home with an active alcoholic can affect how a child looks at life and almost everything in it.

On the Al-Anon website there is a list of questions entitled, "Did you grow up in an alcoholic home?"

The wording of these questions offer an insight into some ways children are affected by growing up in a alcoholic home.

1. Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?

    It may be because you don't really know what "normal" is -- you have to try to figure it out from the actions and reactions of others.
2. Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?

    What seems routine to you might be considered "overachieving" by everybody around you.
3. Do you fear criticism?

    In childhood "criticism" often was accompanied by some form of abuse, verbal or otherwise.
4. Do you overextend yourself?

    Just carrying a normal work load was never good enough. You had to do more to avoid the wrath of the alcoholic.
5. Have you had problems with your own compulsive behavior?

    Without knowing it, you probably developed a patern in childhood of approaching everything "alcoholically."
6. Do you have a need for perfection?

    One little slip up and the alcoholic might explode into anger. That deep-seeded fear can carry over into adulthood.
7. Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?

    The alcoholic always sabotaged the "good times" like holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc. Things never turned out the was the were planned.
8. Do you feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

    People can become addicted to excitement. They find "normal" people and situations boring.
9. Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?

    There's always that nagging feeling that you were somehow responsible for the alcoholic's drinking. Maybe if you had done something differently...
10. Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?

    You are comfortable in the "caretaker" role, but extremely uncomfortable doing things for yourself, like spending money on something just for you.
11. Do you isolate yourself from other people?

    If they get too close, they may find out your "secrets."
12. Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?

    The authority figures in your childhood were probably abusive. You expect the same from all authority figures. When the alcoholic became angry, it usually meant something extreme was about to happen.
13. Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?

    You grew up with someone who was an expert at controlling and manipulating everyone around them. Trust is not something that comes naturally.
14. Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?

    Possibly the only "love" that you saw demonstrated in childhood was the love the alcoholic had for the bottle.
15. Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?

    You may be attracted to people who "need" you or people you know that you can "fix."
16. Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and abusive?

    Again, normal people bore you and you don't understand them. You are more comfortable around people who you can relate to and won't judge you.
17. Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?

    It may be from your deep-seeded fear of abandonment. One way or the other, your alcoholic parent emotionally or physically abandoned you for the bottle.
18. Do you mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?

    How many times have you heard, "I'm sorry. It won't happen again." But it did.
19. Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?

    You were told that it was not okay to cry. You were never allowed to be angry and if you were you faced serious consequencies or ridicule.
20. Do you think parental drinking may have affected you?

    Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. But it would be extremely difficult to grow up around excessive drinking and not be somehow effected.
If you answered yes to some of these questions, chances are you have been affected more than you may realize by the family disease of alcoholism. If so, you may want to learn more about the disease by reading these stories, visiting the Al-Anon website, or checking this list of Online meetings.
Children of Alcoholics
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Sincerely,
Sara J.

The Start of the Road to Recovery

    Now that I am on my own, I want to focus on myself and getting over the trauma that occurred in my childhood as a result of my father and his alcoholism. I believe that I have many problems that have resulted from this trauma that I would like to begin to work on. Partly due to my anger toward my father, but more due to my desire to improve myself, I wish not to communicate with my father so that I do not have to participate in his manipulation. I believe contact with him would be counter-active to the work I am beginning to do on myself. This is why I wish not to communicate with him. I feel as though I can't waste any more time and energy concerning myself with his feelings. All anyone in our family does is concern themselves with his feelings. We are all constantly worrying about how our action will affect him. We are always in constant fear of my father being angry with us for our actions so we always consider him and his feelings in every decision we make. He, however, does not return the favor. He goes about life taking what he wishes and giving nothing back. He is a completely selfish and self-centered individual. He considers no one else's feelings but expects everyone to consider his in everything they do. He has orchestrated this dynamic in our family. The situation is such that we can only be happy on his terms. His happiness, and his needs, always come first and everyone else's second. For the first time in my life, I am putting myself first. I am only going to worry about my own  needs and my own happiness.  I believe that this is the only  way I be a healthy person-- if I take the time to look at my own issues and better myself.  Only after I have sufficiently worked out my own issues, and only then, will I be able to have any sort of relationship with my father. I especially need to work on myself-esteem before I can have a relationship with him because he constantly criticizes me and I give this criticism too much weight and it affects me too much-- lowering my self-esteem even further and it is already almost nonexistent. I have to protect myself from this verbal abuse while I am gaining self-esteem or else I will never have to the ability to do the latter. I feel as though I have spent the first 18 years of my life preoccupying myself with my father's feeling and I must now consider my own in order to become a healthy individual. I hope you can understand what I mean.

Sincerely,
Sara J.