Early childhood memories. The wispy bits and pieces of our 2, 3, or 4 year old selves that continue to live on inside us. We all have them to one extent or another. For some they are easily recalled, others find them elusive or nonexistent. Often they are attached to events of significance. Events that were significant to the child we once were, not necessarily significant to those around us. These memories mold us in incredible ways, at times shaping us into the person we will become…or at least the person we perceive ourselves to be.
I learned something important in therapy as an adult. The past can indeed hold the key to the present. My childhood memories were skeletons that needed to come out of the closet and be addressed before healing and change could ever occur. As I write about my journey I will need to talk about my family. I want to do this honestly. If you are a family member you may recognize yourself in my memories. Please understand these are memories through a child’s eyes, not an adult’s. Additionally, some of my extended family may learn some unpleasant facts about someone they looked up to and loved. Just because this woman was unlovely to me does not mean she was a bad person, but understanding her role in how I perceived myself was a key part of learning to cope with those feelings and overcome them. Writing this will take time. It is difficult for me to write about without bringing up old feelings. Something I do not want to do on a daily basis. Please be patient with me.
There are many, many, children who have had childhoods more difficult and unhappy than my own. Not all these people end up with a mental illness. I do not believe my childhood led me to become bipolar. What I do believe, is that it exacerbated certain symptoms and made coping more difficult. Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and that very definitely had its roots in my early childhood. Guilt and feelings of worthlessness were early companions as well. These were set in place as early as four years old, and not addressed until many years thereafter. By that time the negative reel in my head had been looping over and over for a very long time.
You are too shy, you are mean, you are a liar, you are lazy, you are stupid, everything is your fault, you only think of yourself, you are afraid of everything, you are unlovable, you are selfish, you just want attention, you are ugly, you have no self control, why can’t you be like “them.” You are a bad person.