Childhood When I was 3- Does this sound traumatizing?

JGirl

Confident
My brain keeps flipping between "maximizing" and "minimizing" childhood experiences.
I grew up with a sister 7 years older than me who had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and parents who did not (could not?) acknowledge what as going on.
I was terrified of her. She was kind, and buying me things one minute and then screaming at me, swearing, belittling me and threatening to kill me the next. I know that it is silly, but I believed her.

My parents made her watch me and my sister over the summer when I was 3, my other sister was 8 and she was 10.
She resented having to watch me, so she and my other sister would play a game with me. They would sit me in a chair in the middle of the living room and tie me up with skipping ropes and scarves. Then they would just leave me alone and then go play outside. I know this happened frequently because I liked playing this "game" and got pretty good at getting out of it. It They would just keep putting me back in and try to tie the ropes tighter.

Through therapy, I realized that my mind protected me so that I saw it as something fun. Through EMDR work I realized how sad, confused and abandoned I felt. I was also able rescue little me and let her know that she is no longer alone.
Some days I think that was pretty awful. Other days It wasn't that big of a deal. So why did I burst into tears writing this? Is this normal sibling stuff that I am making a big deal out of?

Throughout the years, my sister pushed me, slapped me and frequently told me that I was never going to be anything.
Aside from one time ripping a chunk of my hair out, she never really hurt me.

I feel like it doesn't add up. I don't know why I have always felt so traumatized from her. Why I hate her. At 16 I tried to down a handful of tylenol (I spat some of it out because I could not swallow it all) because I was afraid to be left alone with her for the weekend and my parents wouldn't let me go anywhere else.

Maybe I am just attention seeking, or that "spoiled little princess brat" that my sisters think I am. If I need to fix my flaws , then I am certainly willing to work on that.
 

Defaultxlovee

Confident
It sounds like it traumatized you. Remember the way something makes you feel is valid. I grew up with 7 siblings. Five are girls. Because of this I had little tolerance for female friends. I think all sibling relationships have a love hate thing. However how much hate was allowed against you sounds to be the indication of the problem.

I'm also a lot more sensitive than a lot of my sister's. I was dubbed the flower child. Hippie. Etc. Some people feel a certain thing more extreme than others. Or in other words we all feel pain the same but what pains us could be different.

I hope this helps. But I'm certain you are not a bratty princess. I've found that those who can consider what they might be with sincerity mostly aren't those things or they would have found that out themselves. I hope I'm making sense

If you do have a tendency about yourself you could improve as we all do. It still doesn't make you a spoiled brat.

Hope you well!
 

JGirl

Confident
Thank you for your response @Defaultxlovee. My aunt used to say that I was a little flower child so I find your comment kind of funny. I just found out from an aunt ( a few days ago) that my dad used to tell us to get lost all the time and would never want us around. She used to worry about mys sisters and I. I have no memory of that at all and can't even imagine him saying that. This is making me wonder what else I forgot about.

I went to my current T for a huge nightmarish trauma that I went through 10 years ago. She thinks that my childhood has a bigger impact on me than that did. I always felt that was the "root" of many things, but don't understand it. I sometimes think that maybe my T has put things into my head. I know that she is very good, well educated with childhood abuse and trauma, and very sought after so it is hard to imagine that she would actually do that.

All I know is that my brain is completely messed up right now. I am constantly having flashbacks from childhood and they don't make any sense. I am just trying to figure out the mystery of my life. I appreciate the support.
 

Friday

Moderator
I know that it is silly, but I believed her.
Not really. Children are far more likely than adults to follow through with threats of violence; and are also far more likely to both voice real feelings & act on real feelings, rather than being hyperbolic; in no small part because impulse control is a learned thing / sketchy at best with kids, as is emotional monitoring and regulation, as is empathy.

If she was bipolar? Then there would be times that even sketchy impulse control & self-regulation & empathy would have been impossible. So in addition to children being far more dangerous than adults? She would also be having periods of chemical maelstroms in her brain that even adults with decades of learned control have to manage with meds… because those can’t be managed by willpower or practice.

***
As far as being tied up, fighting, babysitting, taking out resentments on others? Yep. Those can be a totally normal part of growing up. AND they can be totally abusive. AND they can be a mix of both… where some of it is normal sibling stuff, and others are waaaaaaay past that. It’s like in adult domestic violence? Spouses can have totally normal interactions with each other, as well as totally abusive interactions with each other. Since your sister was bipolar? Smart money is on the mix of both. Since being in a bipolar mania / mixed episode falls waaaaaay outside the range of normal childhood development, with behaviors to match.

What her personality was like outside of symptomatic behavior? Loving and amazing, kind and all good things? Or a cruel streak magnified by <insert all kinds of other assholeish personality characteristics> so that any moment of not-a-bitch was a fluke, rather than a central part of her & your relationship? Would determine the ratio of normal v not.

It’s one of the reasons why stranger violence is so much easier to wrap one’s head around, than intimate partner violence, and violence within the family. With a stranger one only knows them in the context of their being violent. One doesn’t have memories of giggling together, and adventures, and normalcy, and often profound love… conflicting with fear, hate, violence, unpredictability, and all the rest.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
My parents made her watch me and my sister over the summer when I was 3, my other sister was 8 and she was 10.
Sounds a lot of responsibility to put on a 10 year old by your parents, and with your Aunt saying what she did, makes me think what all this was like for all of you.

It does sound sad (and traumatising) that your sister did that to you, and you took it at the time as something you liked (what else could you take it as?). Sounds a lonely place for a 3 year old to be.
 

Defaultxlovee

Confident
Thank you for your response @Defaultxlovee. My aunt used to say that I was a little flower child so I find your comment kind of funny. I just found out from an aunt ( a few days ago) that my dad used to tell us to get lost all the time and would never want us around. She used to worry about mys sisters and I. I have no memory of that at all and can't even imagine him saying that. This is making me wonder what else I forgot about.

I went to my current T for a huge nightmarish trauma that I went through 10 years ago. She thinks that my childhood has a bigger impact on me than that did. I always felt that was the "root" of many things, but don't understand it. I sometimes think that maybe my T has put things into my head. I know that she is very good, well educated with childhood abuse and trauma, and very sought after so it is hard to imagine that she would actually do that.

All I know is that my brain is completely messed up right now. I am constantly having flashbacks from childhood and they don't make any sense. I am just trying to figure out the mystery of my life. I appreciate the support.
Here for you. And talking with you helps me also. Sometimes a T isn't the best fit.
I think it's always worth considering what anyone says at least once. If it doesn't apply let it fly. I've had a counselor before who just simply could not connect with.

If it feels rather forced (and I'm not talking about dragging yourself to therapy) but if there's a lot of friction in conversation as far as you don't feel heard or understood. May be time to find a better fit. Therapy is so important. But please don't cut it off just because I shared this! I'm not a professional. And do believe all concerns should be discussed maybe T or you didn't understand the other.

Keep up the work. You'll keep growing. Flower child ❤️
 

JGirl

Confident
What her personality was like outside of symptomatic behavior? Loving and amazing, kind and all good things? Or a cruel streak magnified by <insert all kinds of other assholeish personality characteristics> so that any moment of not-a-bitch was a fluke, rather than a central part of her & your relationship? Would determine the ratio of normal v not.
This is a really good question. I have never thought about it. I often see her as mean and manipulative. But I actually think that she is very caring and genuinely wants to help others. She experienced traumas too. And my parents were awful to her. They didn't understand her behaviour and could not handle it which led to harsh punishments that my other sister and I were spared from. We can barley talk most of the time because we trigger each other.

Sounds a lot of responsibility to put on a 10 year old by your parents, and with your Aunt saying what she did, makes me think what all this was like for all of you.
I think about that too. I spend a lot of time hating her when I am triggered. I do feel bad for her and try to be supportive when I can. But I know that my parents should have never put that much on her. She had to watch me all the time.

Here for you. And talking with you helps me also. Sometimes a T isn't the best fit.
I am glad that talking with me helps you too. I have been trying to be supportive for others, but I feel like I am a bit of a hot mess right now.
I actually love my T. Her practice has done so much for my kids. I got rid of my daily anxiety at work so I could actually focus on my job because of her. I also, for the first time in my life had a time that I actually felt like I wasn't completely broken because of her. That didn't happen until after we started addressing more childhood issues, so I do think she is onto something. I could be in denial, or she could be making some errors, as all humans do. I am sorting things out. Also, It put a huge smile on my fave when you called me

Keep up the work. You'll keep growing. Flower child ❤️
This made me smile!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
That didn't happen until after we started addressing more childhood issues, so I do think she is onto something. I could be in denial, or she could be making some errors, as all humans do
From what you have written here, it sounds quite likely (sorry) that your T is on to something. The fact you have this big reaction against it, is communication from inside you. Your protective element perhaps kicking in to save you from the emotional pain of delving into your childhood in this way?
I get it. I have done that too. I don't know if my denial is the same as yours, but it comes in so many different forms. The most subtle one, for me, is not questioning at all all the 'funny' stories my mum tells from our childhood. For decades I and everyone went along with how funny they are, and laugh and joke. But actually they are not funny, but abusive. And the fact she thinks they are funny, is abusive in itself. So it's that total brainwashing into seeing my childhood through her lense, rather than mine. Powerful stuff to process. It's not surprising I had so much resistance to doing that.

That may reasonate or not. But I do think it's worth unpicking your reaction to T's suggestion.
 
Top