Sunday Ramble: Childhood Memories

Hi everyone. I’m participating in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble again. Today’s topic is childhood memories. Here are the questions.

1. What is your first good memory from your childhood? (If this is a trigger question for you, tell me how your day is and what the best thing is about today.)
My third birthday. My grandma visited and gifted me a doll she’d bought in Berlin, Germany. Either she or my father explained that, in German, the word for doll is “Puppe”, which is pronounced the same as the Dutch word for “poo”. Of course, me being three and my sister being one, we laughed our butts off.

2. Name 3 things that you loved when you were just a youngster?
Playing with PlayMobil®. Swinging on the swings. Making mud pies.

3. What did you dislike, or even hate, when you were growing up?
A lot of things, as my childhood wasn’t the best. However, I’ll keep this non-triggering. I hated it when my sister was singing or humming.

4. If you could go give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
You have absolutely zero obligation to prove your worth to your parents or anyone else.

5. What kind of celebrations did you enjoy when you were little, and do you still like those celebrations now that you are grown?
I had a love/hate relationship with all kinds of celebrations. I loved getting presents and special treats, but hated the social obligations involved. When I was a child and teen, we celebrated St. Nicholas. This involves pretending that St. Nick gave us presents. Once I no longer believed in St. Nicholas, I greatly struggled to play along and this led to some frustration among my sister and parents. Needless to say, now that I’m an adult, we no longer celebrate St. Nicholas. My sister and her family do celebrate it with my parents though.

I felt similarly about my birthday, loving the presents but not liking the social aspects. Same now that I’m an adult and more so with my family of origin, because, well, we don’t have the best relationship. With my husband and in-laws, I do like being together for my birthday.

6. Bonus Question: What commercial did you always wait for to come on television as a child? (If you didn’t like commercials or television, what event did you wait for to come about when you were a kid?)
I didn’t really enjoy commercials, although I liked Loeki the Lion, who came on inbetween commercials on public television. He was recently reintroduced after an absence of over twenty years I believe.

With respect to TV shows in general, as a child I loved a show called Droomshow (Dream Show), in which a pair of girls competed against a pair of boys in all kinds of candy-related games and the winning team had to shoot for prizes while the losing team got the “shitty shower”.

What was your first good childhood memory?

A Letter to Myself Five Years Ago

Today, I stumbled upon a journaling prompt that asked me to write a letter to myself five years ago. I’m pretty sure I’ve done something similar to this at least a couple of times before. In fact, when I searched this blog for letters, I saw that I’d written A letter explaining my life at the time in early 2020, a letter to my younger self in general in October of 2018 and even a letter from my (then) future self in 2019.

Those who know the timeline of my life, of course, will not be surprised that I am going to pick this prompt anyway, as the “five years ago” part of the prompt is particularly significant. After all, it was weeks before I’d be kicked out of the mental hospital. I am not going to bore you with a timeline of the past five years in this letter. Instead, I’m trying to provide some new insights.

Raalte, March 27, 2022

Dear Astrid,

It is tempting to start this letter with a cliché, such as, “How are you?” However, I know how you are. You are struggling greatly with self-doubt and uncertainty. Fear of abandonment and attachment loss. You’d rather avoid taking the next step in your life, leaving the familiar behind to step into unfamiliar territory. Even though you’d rather not admit it, your psychologist is right that you’re scared of needing to become independent.

I want to let you know I understand. Independence is scary. The unfamiliar, leaving the psychiatric institution to go live with your husband, is even scarier. I understand you’d rather stay with unsupportive people you know, ie. in the psych hospital, than live with a supportive person, ie. your husband, under circumstances you don’t know.

And, to be honest, if I had a choice back when I was you, I’d not have chosen to live with my husband. The thing is, you don’t have a choice. Not yet. But you will, at some point.

Please, for my sake, hold on for a bit. Do what your psychologist tells you, but also stand up for your right to proper day activities and community support. It will be hard, living in the community with your husband. But things will get easier.

I am writing from a care facility. In 2019, I was approved for long-term care based on blindness. I also have extra one-on-one support. Please don’t tell your psychologist all of this, as she’s going to time travel right ahead to me and make sure my funding gets taken away. This is just between you and me, so that you know things will improve. I know they will get worse first, but please do hold on.

Looking to you, I do see that you struggle to let go of the familiar, even when it isn’t good for you. I sometimes think I face the opposite issue, chasing perfection rather than being content with what I have now. It’s a true balancing act.

I also want to let you know that, as much as you’d like to make your own choices, being allowed to make those choices also can be a burden. The fact that, now, I am free to stay in the care facility for as long as I want or leave when I want, is quite scary, I must admit. In that sense, your psychologist was probably right about my dependent personality disorder features.

I wish I could tell you that your attachment issues would be over by now. They aren’t. I’m still struggling with them, worse even than I was when I was you. However, I do have a supportive mental health treatment team now,for which I’m forever grateful.

In summary, please do believe in yourself. You have every right to feel that you need more support than your psychologist says you need. You just won’t get it yet. Eventually though, you will.

With love,

Your future self

A Letter to My Younger Self #Write31Days

Welcome to day nine in my #Write31Days series on personal growth. Today, I chose yet another prompt from The Self-Exploration Journal. It asks what one piece of advice you would give your younger self if you could go back in time. Ths question couldn’t be more timely, as I’m facing a lot of regrets from the past right now as I face the decision to apply for long-term care. I am spinnning this questioon around a little and going to write a letter to my younger self. I don’t have an idea for the age of this younger self, but the piece of advice should be the same anyway.

Dear Younger Self,

This is your 32-year-old self writing. I want to reassure you that I see you. I see your struggles for autonomy, for self-determination. And yet, I see your struggles with your limitations. You have yet to come to terms with the fact that you’re multiply-disabled.

I see that peope try to control you. Your parents consider you worth parenting only so long as you prove that you’re going to give back by contributing to society. Your support staff try to please your parents, sending you out to live on your own despite knowing this isn’t in your best interest. Your psychologist in Nijmegen, no matter how helpful she is in some respects, still doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to go into the right type of care. She, like eveyrone before her, values your intelligence over your need for support. Your psychologist in Wolfheze blames you. She robs you off your last bit of self-determination by kicking you out of the institution without proper after care.

I want to reassure you. I see your needs. I’m fighting for them to be met. I don’t have enough support yet, but I have people around me who are fighting for it with me. I can’t promise you that you will ultimately get into long-term care, as that’s up to the funding agency to decide. I can however assure you that I’m fighting for you.

If there’s one piece of advice I could give you, it’s to fight for yourself. No-one can live your life but you. You don’t owe your parents anything. You’re past that point. Care staff do only their job. This isn’t to discount the good work my current care staff do, but it’s just that, work. They will eventually fade out of our life. Even your husband, the only person who will most likely stick by you for a long time to come, doesn’t have the right to control you. I know you want to please him, because you love him, but that is different. Pleasing your husband is founded on love, not authority, and it is mutual. Even so, your husband does not live your life. Ultimately, the only person who will live the entirety of your life with you, is you.

I don’t mean this to criticize you at all. I see how hard it is for you to stand up to controling people. But you’ll learn to do so in time.

With love,

Astrid

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?