Joyce 🐝 Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee

3 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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Mental Health Awareness?

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This is Mental Health awareness month.  I’m here to tell you a bit of my story.  My story is one of many.  Children die every day from the likes of what I suffered, and if they survive?  Well, they turn out like me.  My difficulties are not biological or of character flaws.  My neurophysiology is the result of inadvertent training.  I learned to survive from the moment I was born.  Every second was a question of:
Do I step this way or that?  Do I run or stand pat? Can I breathe or should I hold my breath? 

The rage on my mother’s face always twisted my torment with fear.  By an early age, I had learned to temper my fear by dissociating.  I floated my mind away from my body’s associations and drowned my fear with oblivion.  But I had to squeak out a bit to assure my mother she was hurting me.

My first real memory of terror was just before the age of two.  My mother stood across the kitchen.  She saw me and cooed to me with her arms held out—her face glowed with kindness.  My rubber pants swish-swished as I toddled toward her.  She gathered me up in her arms.  In a split second, her face twisted into an evil rage.

“I gotcha now,” she growled.

I screamed and twisted to get away from that face.  My memory goes dark then.  But I believe I was successful in my efforts and crashed to the floor—smashing my nose into my face.  I suppose she probably complicated the break by pushing a rag into my face to stem the bleeding.  No doctor—no hospital—just a devil trying to keep from getting caught for the damage she caused.  I lived with that nose for thirteen years.  My nickname was flatnose.  When security questions come up as to what my nickname was or is, I invariably fill in that name.

There was far far more to my suffering.  My story, The Pursuit tells more of the tale.

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This picture was before my plastic surgery.  The cartilage in my nose skews far to the left. 

After came the news in recovery that my beloved pet—a dog I named Waggles for the incessant motion of his tail—was dead.  They gave me some excuse for why he was dead, but I know they killed him.  For years I suffered guilt over the fixing of my face—selfish, I was—I should have stayed home and protected my dog.  All I have left of that memory is his collar.  But he was not the only pet I loved that met death because I loved them.

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There were other injuries.  Loss of part of a finger... 

The rest were broken bones.  And those were all by the age of 2 1/2.  I'm pretty sure medical staff served up a warning to my mother then.

When I was fifteen, my father informed me that the whole world thought I was a whore.  I was pure and told him so.  The thought of sex rippled fear over me.  I believed my mother would kill me if I indulged such fantasies.   I think he wanted to scorch my view of myself because I had rebuffed his earlier advances.  Yet my mother sat in a chair to the left of me--a grimace on her face that told me,  of course, she is a whore.

What an Asshole, my mind now grumbles. 

All this resulted in a severe form of trauma.  To this day I live in fear.  To survive, I was forced to think in the abstract.  Point is, I don’t think like most people.  Tests show I cluster rather than think serially.  In plowing through the dust in my mind, I see that if a point in the conversation with people that seems to not quite fit in, I tuck it away in a file in my mind for future reference.  If things come together as a result of later conversations—that one doesn’t fit—this one doesn’t fit, and epiphany!—they fit with each other.  It’s that clustering thing I do.  But it’s in the interest of determining danger.  I’m still surviving.

Educators gasped at my performance scores starting when I was thirteen—at least that was the first time I saw a teacher do so.  I was ashamed.  Those scores did not feel honest, and they weren’t. They were a result of the incessant need to survive.  To this day, my mind bandies about in the abstract, and though age has slowed me, my mind still tumbles around in abstract problem-solving.

It’s instinctive for me.


I suffered horrific injuries--both physical and mental.  Trauma is not treated here.  I am on my own.  It's barely recognized.  But when I look in the mirror, or my curved fingernail catches in my clothing, or the cold exacerbates an ache in a healed bone, I know it exists.


Copyright 2018 Joyce Bowen

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Comments
#31
It is my goal to bring awarenes, Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador. I hope to bring more to light over time. I always remember Jeremiah Oliver and Bella Bond--two children who did not make it out of the abyss.
#30
I only wish those who knew what was happening to me felt the same. They simply turned their backs.
It's stories like this that bring awareness to an ongoing problem. I commend you for sharing your horrific experiences.

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #29

Joyce, You triggered two things in me: Fear and Rage. I'm afraid that at the end of my days I may be treated as you were as a child. Irage that those who supposedly are protectors are not. Now I know why a psychiatrist friend was so down on others that bore that title.

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #28

i just spell-bounded by your awful tale Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee which triggered me to share. thank you very much for sharing such afflicting buzz.

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

3 years ago #27

Ah, the courage for perseverance comes from determined souls that sway into past, with deep memories, and revive their lives to move on ahead.

Lisa Vanderburg

3 years ago #26

#21
There's something about child abusers that seem to make feel somehow empowered - is that why they either repel their peers or attract sychophants. Curious.....

Lisa Vanderburg

3 years ago #25

#13
Personally, I have an inherent distrust of psychological help, but I think it's rooted in the idea that 'it's too late' which I didn't recognise - for me at least - until it was....too late. I do see the benefit of treatment if the trauma is caught quickly but, undiscovered for decades...?? Yet you Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee are strong, determined and extremely bright; you found the words - the hardest test IMHO of recovering a litlle back - that's both laudable and contains more than a grain of hope.
Thank you for the shares, Bill King
#18
Beautiful and poignant site, Marianne Naughton.
#17
Sorry to hear, Debesh Choudhury. I abhore any levied turmoil in a child's life and was a tigress with my own. I'd get in the face of bullies with dire threat in my face.
#12
Pascal Derrien--one of my favs. Who'd you piss off to get a -1? I know there is an undercurrent of cliqueshness here, but not you.
#11
Thanks for your comments, Lisa Vanderburg. I worry for the children still out there. Ironically, there is a religious undercurrent which surmises such abuse is deserved because of a defect in the soul. People knew what was happening to me, but instead of outrage, they turned their backs. I knew I was completely alone by the age of eight.
#19
Just remember that had these things not happened to you then you wouldn't have been the person you are Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee. You gained so much wisdom because of what happened to you. It is our destiny.
#9
Thank you, Ali \ud83d\udc1d Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee. It flowed easily but was one of my most difficult pieces to write. It is the very system tasked with helping that scares me most. If you could be a fly on the wall of my life, you'd be amazed at what's been done to me.

Marianne Naughton

3 years ago #17

Such pain to endure https://www.pinterest.com/mfnaughton/out-of-the-darkness/

Debesh Choudhury

3 years ago #16

Some of us had faced terror instead of love and care during the childhood days, those memories made us stronger, that is evidenced from your powerful depiction Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee .. I can relate it to some of mine during my school days, but from the external world
#8
Thank you, Bill King. It is I who am honored.
#7
being able to share is a gift I do not take lightly, Ian Weinberg. And yes--I know--my Multiple Sclerosis is probably trauma-based. But if I huddle in a corner and squirm with fear, my life will be for naught. Professors have helped me develop skills, and I will not squander them. I do rejoice. Thank you. Educators have always been a mainstay in my life. I will always treasure their encouragement. Damn--I'm rambling...

Ken Boddie

3 years ago #13

#13
sounds like you need some allies, Joyce, to win the war you are fighting, and I hope you find them. May I suggest, however, that you choose your battles along the way carefully? Some battles in every war are unwinnable.
#6
Help? No, Ken Boddie. Hope? There is little hope without help. My greatest hope and help come from my reading and writing peers. But the greatest purveyors of stigma regarding these types of events comes from the mental health community itself. I sometimes think I must have a sign called, "Damaged Goods," stamped on my forehead. It probably sounds ludicrous, I know, but mental health practitioners are the biggest problem. It wasn't until I wrapped up my degree in psychology that I even began to understand how critical this is. Psychiatrist, psychologists, social workers all have a stranglehold on public opinion. Nothing cleared this up more for me than when I pursued a child predator working in that field. His colleagues wrapped their arms around him rather than the children he brutalized. I often describe us as collateral damage. Yes--it didn't stop when I escaped my parents' home. Complex Trauma often brings with it a follow-up of Institutional Trauma. There are some truly wonderful people in the field. I will always be grateful for the teachings of Dr. Christine Courtois and others. But they appear to have given up swimming against the tide. They took on a cause the powers-that-be don't want to hear about. If I have hope, it is in that children will cease to die from these types of circumstances. To hell with me--at least I'm still breathing. Jeremiah Oliver and Bella Bond (as a few examples) aren't. They were five and two when they died. Children continue to die every day. But hope still glimmers when I receive responses like yours. Emails are starting to trickle in in response to my article. I always hope, "this will be the one."

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #11

Ah Joyce the world is a better place because of people like you even though the world has not been always to kind to you..... I can still detect a smile and hope even if it had shrank it is still there and you just wrote about it.

Lisa Vanderburg

3 years ago #10

It takes such immense courage to share [some] of your story Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee - I applaud that you can even find the words, for we know the re-wiring that took place at such a tender age then cemented, over and over. My head hangs in shame at what souless creatures some humans become to brutalize a child so. And my heart yearns for your survival!
Sharing a personal story that shall make you in clusters and wonder how our childhood affects the fragility of our minds and bodies. Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee shares her story and it is worthy of your reading time.
I am just asking if Nassim Taleb had read your story would he have used your horrific story to explore in more depth the concept of antifragility Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee. It is getting stronger post a trauma than weaker. May be your body became fragile, but your mind became antifragile. I can spot this from your writing "Tests show I cluster rather than think serially. In plowing through the dust in my mind, I see that if a point in the conversation with people that seems to not quite fit in, I tuck it away in a file in my mind for future reference".Thank you for sharing your story, which I am sure shall influence your readers.

Ian Weinberg

3 years ago #7

We know with much clarity today, the negative consequences that result from such oppressive nurture origins. These take the form of both emotional and physical pathologies - most notably chronic inflammatory-based. The true hero's are people like you that have found the inner resources to transcend the darkness. Savor the good times and rejoice in what you've achieved in spite of such negative origins. Thanks for sharing Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee

Ken Boddie

3 years ago #6

#2
..... and do you have hope and help, Joyce?
Ian Weinberg. Please view this.
Take a
#1
Thanks, Ken Boddie. Yup--sometimes growing up is hard to do. This was hard to write, but I'm trying to bring awareness to the topic so others have hope for help.

Ken Boddie

3 years ago #1

I’m glad you shared part of your horrific story, Joyce, devoid of a normal and healthy childhood. One silver lining to this cloud is that the pain and suffering has helped mould the unique writer that you have become.

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