"Not tonight dear, I have a headache"
Just last night, I proudly announced to my family, "You know what? I'm not taking Motrin like I used to!"
While my kids had no idea what I was talking about, I really thought my observation was significant, and in turn, I felt really proud of myself.
As stupid luck would have it, I noticed something very curious in my news-feed. It seems many are spreading the word that researchers from the American Headache Society's Women's Issues Section Research Consortium found that incidence of childhood maltreatment, especially emotional abuse and neglect, are prevalent in migraine patients. While a part of me wants to go on the attack, hoping people don't read this news and use it as an excuse to remove children from pathological parents, ASAP.... a bigger part of me wants to share a part of my own personal history, and how life became one big chronic headache for me.
Throughout my childhood, my Amother was always complaining of stomach pains and headaches. She had a difficult childhood. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother didn't seem to be the sharpest crayon in the box. It was decided somehow, for her own good, it would be best if she lived at her grandmother's house for a few years. I never knew her grandmother, but according to my Amother, she was the best, most loving caring woman in the world.
Still, my Amother was a miserable moody/sickly woman, always needing time in bed.... always recovering from something.
I hated seeing the only mommy I knew always in bed... sad.... not feeling good enough to get up and do Mommy-things. As a child, I would ask her if I could do anything to help her feel better. She'd tell me I could rub her back, her legs, and her feet. I felt so good being able to take care of mommy. A pattern was established.... a pattern I deeply regret for reasons I will try to explain.
Out of love, I would rub her feet, her back, her legs. I would bring her tea and toast and her bottle of pills, so she could sleep, recover, and come back to me. I would make sure I was quiet and good, so nothing would disturb her. As my mommy's care-taker, I felt like it was my responsibility not to give her any reason to feel bad or upset. She and my Afather grew to depend on me and my ability to take good care of the woman suffering with so much unresolved loss and pain.
Horrible things would happen to me when she is was in her dark quiet room. Horrible things were said, done and forced upon me, while my weak and pained mommy slept in her bed. Her chronic need for comfort became my living nightmare, but I dared not say a word, or complain.
I never had the courage to tell her what was being done to me. I saw her as being far too fragile to withstand any real-life news, and besides, there was no room for me to speak openly and honestly with a woman who saw me as her best-friend. We had a warped unspoken agreement: I would give her relaxing rub-downs and serve her drinks and food to go with her pills, and she would re-live all her unhappy childhood experiences, voicing all her hate, which extended to her husband and family, too.
God how I hated her sometimes.
When I first went to college, that's when my flashbacks and headaches began. I used to pop ibuprofen like they were candy. Friends were impressed I could down four, with only my spit. Other friends told me they had something better than over-the-counter pills. Pot, coke, shrooms.... yea, they did the trick, until the flashbacks were able to penetrate the drug-induced haze.
I was going down a dangerous path, and spiraling out of control.... but I didn't care. My grades were falling and I was looking like shit. Still, my Aparents didn't want to know the reason for my dramatic changes in looks and school performance. They had all the answers, and yelled and preached at me, telling me what I was doing was a stupid mistake. They never asked questions that went beyond, "What's WRONG with you?!?" I never let them in. God how I hated them.
Only now can I begin to put certain feelings into words that others might understand. You see, an amazing thing always happened to me, when I was in their presence. A freeze would take-over me. All ability to speak-up for myself, and say what needed to be said got caught in my throat, cutting off all oxygen going to my head. I had no problem voicing strong personal opinions with friends.... but when it came to my adoptive parents, I became mute.
I remember when they had enough of my bad grades. It was after my second year of college, and my grades went from bad to worse. I got speeches and hours of preaching, telling me what it was I had to do to make my life better. I remember looking at them thinking, "You people think you know everything about me because of tests scores and my proven abilities. You think all you want to see is all you need to know." As I sat through my punishment for not doing well in college, they outlined my life for me. I sat in pure disbelief, knowing they were serious. As they dictated all my future steps, under their rules and watchful eyes, I sat and went deeper and deeper inside my head, not knowing the nod I was giving them was some sort of sick nod of approval.... giving a death sentence to myself.
For years I followed their rules, and removed all personal dreams from my heart and mind. I did not dare a particle of passion to live in myself. Living life like a walking corpse was much easier than allowing any personal thought or feeling.
My chronic daily headaches returned soon after I got married. It's as if I suddenly woke-up, only to discover a new nightmare was ahead.
I learned my severe headaches happen only when I am severely stressed. [My neurologist explained to me it all has to do with hormones.... which makes perfect sense.]
Now when I get night terrors, I don't reach for the alcohol or drugs. I reach for adult friends of mine who know a little about what I've been through. I don't go into detail about the dreams of me being forced to do something sexual with a person I don't want to be with... I don't go into detail about the fear of being chased or the feel of having my hair grabbed and my head being slammed against something. I simply tell them it was another bad night.... and amazingly, it's the best medicine I can give myself.