Let me introduce you to Gary, he is what I have named my negative intrusive thoughts. I imagine that a 13 year old lad, who is an obnoxious little shit, is spewing the shit to me, because let’s face it. I’d tell him to shut up. It was working. Takes a lot of fucking practise, but I am getting there. When I tell Gary to shut the fuck up, I hear a Mew, yes, like Gary from Spongebob Squarepants. Gary doesn’t like being told that he is talking shit. Also, the Mew makes me smile.
So, who or what is Gary?
[Content Note: Please be aware that what follows mentions childhood trauma, paternal abuse, mental, physical and emotional abuse, negative and intrusive thoughts. Take care when navigating your way through this.]
Growing up in a household where the main influence was a massively negative and abusive person, my first thoughts in any situation are either guilt (What have I done wrong?) or anger (I was always met with every situation from this one parent with anger, regardless of what it was. There were very few ‘tender’ enjoyable moments). So, as with anyone who has spent a lot of years being conditioned to believe something, those messages and ideas are what comes first in any situation.
After being told from a very young age, that I was nothing, that I was a fuck-up, that I was a mistake, that I was worth nothing and that because I was the oldest, everything was my fault, well, I should be parenting my younger siblings whilst my mother worked and my father dictated how the house should be ran. At a young age, I grew up, fast. I was expected to punish and reprimand my younger siblings for their wrongdoings, yet, if they screwed up, I would get a beating. I should have known better.
I have a real issue with people calling me by my first name. I use a nickname these days, everyone calls me by it. When people call me by my first name, the fear and paranoia that induces can make me vomit. It’s not pleasant. I instantly worry I have done something wrong and feel like I am waiting for that cane/belt or hand to land on my arse and leave me not able to sit for a week.
My father is a mentally abusive man, when I was younger and he had the physical upper hand, he was also physically abusive. Emotional abuse was a daily occurrence. The fact that the more serious and nastier stuff happened when my Mother (who I do not blame at all) was working one of her two jobs, shows a malevolence that was hidden from her.
The beatings have left their mark, but the words and behaviours have lasted and are harder to unroot.
Take today, I went out in my car to practise what I had learnt in my driving lessons. I was doing really well, a little panicked in places (I think that was the fact I was in a different car and that it felt I was being rushed, but that could be the difference between my instructor and my husband, who said I didn’t scare him and that I did well), but overall, I dealt with the situations well, know where I went wrong and was feeling pretty good for my next lesson on Wednesday. I thought I would push it and try and practise Hill Starts….
The hill we were on was in another Industrial Estate. I stalled. Three or four times. I was getting frustrated because I get flooring the clutch instead of lifting my foot off it. I shouted, I got angry. I wanted to nail this. I did eventually, but when I pulled in after, I cried. I had failed. I had let everyone else down. I was going to fail this.
We sat and talked. Anger bubbling away, not at my husband, although there was some contempt there, it was at myself. Because I should be able to do this. I shouldn’t be letting him down. I’m letting everyone down. I should know this.
Gary was winning. Simple as.
I spent the next 10 minutes trying to explain to myself that I am still bloody learning. I have only had 3 and a half hours of professional lessons, I have only every been behind the wheel of a car, actually doing shit, 4 times. Yet, I still have to convince myself that it’s okay to not be perfect straight away. Working on my visualisation techniques will help with that one. Talking to the child inside me rather than the adult. Encouraging the person who is damaged.
I wouldn’t talk to my child the way I talk to myself, why do I let Gary do it. So, after talking to myself and realising that regardless of how well I did previously, pride in the fact that I have been picking this up quickly was followed by guilt, because I shouldn’t be proud. I should have expected to fail. It’s a chain of thought that has followed me everywhere. I start off by doing something really well, something will happen and I start doubting myself. Depending on my mental health at the time, will depend on how I move on from it.
This time, driving. I won’t stop. I will crack this. Gary will not win. Gary will not dictate to me how I should be picking this shit up. I will go at my own speed (preferably 30mph on roads that allow it) and I will get there. The more practise I get the better at this I will be. Practise does make perfect and I have to practise.
I will pass my tests, whether it be the first time I sit them or the tenth, I will pass. I can do this. That voice in the back of my head is wrong and will be proved wrong.
This is another reason why I am glad I didn’t learn to drive as a young adult. I’d have been a fucking mess. I wouldn’t have been able to accept any criticism, constructive or not. I wouldn’t have learnt, it would have been terrifying. My emotional turbulence wouldn’t have helped either.
Realisations on why I act and respond the way I do to certain situations is the best step to recovery.
Gary will not win.
Fuck you Gary.
*Gary is not a real person but a representation of the negative and intrusive thoughts I have.