Developmental Trauma Disorder You were bad. If you weren’t, your mom would have looked you in the eyes. She’d have picked you up when you cried, and played the peek-a-boo game with you. At first, when she didn’t respond, you’d try hard to get her attention, first being your cutest, then screaming. Nothing worked. You went dorsal, spacing out. It turned out that spacing out was a useful trick. When your dad starting doing sex on you, first you’d get mobilized: scared, waiting, waiting, waiting for the pain. Then you’d space out again. It worked pretty well. It even worked for the beatings, after they got going. After he was done, you felt like a dishrag, unable to move. During their fights, you’d start out tense, fearful, then sink back into that daze, if they didn’t focus on you.
As you grew up, you learned to cope. You went to school, played, studied. You were like a different person when you were out of the house. But sometimes the inside life intruded on your outside life. You couldn’t have close friends because everyone seemed scary. You couldn’t say no to anyone about anything, because you couldn’t say no at home. And anyway, you were supposed to rely on yourself, nobody else. Once in a while, all the rage would come out on somebody, usually someone you cared about. They’d do something little and you’d blow, saying terrible things. For a while, they would look to you like they were totally evil. Later, they wouldn’t seem so awful to you, and you’d feel totally ashamed about how you were to them.
Sometimes you felt numb. Sometimes the smallest things could bring up huge anger or fear, for no good reason. Sometimes it felt like there was a huge hole in your stomach that could never get filled. It helped to eat and eat and eat. Sometimes, when the feelings were too big or the numbness too pervasive, you’d yank on your hair, or smash your
fist on your leg. It was strange that hurting made you feel better. If it was really bad, sometimes you used a knife.
The headaches started when you were little. They were constant. Sometimes your ears would buzz, too. And most of the time, if you paid attention to it, your stomach hurt. It made it hard to study or even pay attention. Feeling too much or not feeling anything were like screens between you and the world.
There was nothing to do about it. The abuse is what you were for. You were there to not get in Mom’s way, and to help Dad by taking all his rage and sex. And you always failed. Mom was still depressed. Dad was still angry. You failed at the only things you were there to do. If you had been a good person, it would have been different. But you were born a failure. People say now, “Why didn’t you do anything?” Like go to the cops. Why? What’s the use? The parents would deny everything. Nothing would happen. And who would believe you? Even if they did, who else would have wanted you?