Was I A Loser?

Online comments, tweets, interviews, and overheard conversations reveal misconceptions about people, success, and failure. One misconception stems from the tendency of some people to label other people “losers” using only limited information.

Is someone who turns down a chance to attend college a loser?

Is someone who can’t keep a full time job a loser?

Is someone who drifts from one low paying job to another a loser?

At age 18 I turned down the chance to attend college even though my parents would have paid for it. For years I couldn’t keep a full time job for more than six months. During one year I worked at 10 or more low paying jobs. Was I a loser?

The information other people didn’t have was that my mother tried to kill me twice when I was very young. I spent my entire childhood in terror of my mother killing me. I felt safe only on Christmas Day. Every other day of the year I woke up fearing my mother would kill me that day. No one else knew because my mother was accomplished at hiding cruel words and actions behind her image of a “good mother”. My father loved me but became an alcoholic to dull the cruel words my mother used to batter him emotionally.

I never consciously said to myself, “Mom might kill me today.” That kind of conscious awareness would have made me insane. I buried my murder memories. At age 14 I began overeating compulsively to bury my feelings. I turned down the chance to attend college because I did not want my mother controlling my life any longer. I couldn’t keep a full time job for more than six months because I was suicidally depressed. I drifted from one low paying job to another because the buried memories of my mother murdering me hindered my ability to function.

My turbulent subconscious kept reminding me of the murder attempts with several recurring clues. After 3 years of heart-shredding therapy I finally said to myself at age 42, “Mom did try to kill me.” Today I have two college degrees, am writing several books, have done professional talks, have made a documentary, and have helped other people.

My parents had six children. Daughter, daughter (me), son, daughter, son, daughter. When I was 34, the brother who was born third told me that the reason I had problems with our mother was that I was female instead of male. He said that our mother expected him to be her “knight in shining armor”. My mother needed a son to prove her worth as a woman. In the words of my psychologist brother-in-law, my mother treated my brother like “a god”. Because she needed a knight in shining armor, my mother saw me as a threat. The crime that sentenced me to death was being female.

To protect herself from anything I might eventually say about her, my mother taught relatives and neighbors to ignore what I said and discount what I did. It worked. My siblings and relatives (including my psychologist brother-in-law) think I exaggerate everything and am irresponsible. My siblings treated me like a trespasser in their lives because they considered me a loser.

When I had increasing problems earning money because of a childhood injury to my spine, they decided I couldn’t be feeling physical pain. My older sister asked, “Are you sure it isn’t emotional?’ I told her that when I wore a belt too tightly, my spine hurt. When I loosened the belt, my spine stopped hurting. My sister didn’t believe me. The physical injury to my spine meant nothing in the face of  my siblings’ need to stereotype me as a loser.

If I had allowed myself to remember enough to say something as a child, no one would have believed me. My father taught at Northwestern University. My mother had attended a year of college herself. Who would have believed that a college educated married woman would try to kill her own child?

A series of nightmares put the pieces of my murder memories together at age 42. My father was the only family member who had loved me for who I was, and he died when I was 30. I knew that if I talked about my mother trying to kill me, no one in my family or circle of friends and relatives would believe me. Knowing the outcome, I finally wrote letters stating that my mother had tried to kill me. No one believed me. It was much easier for everyone else to see me as a loser.

I have met five other women who remember one or both of their parents trying to kill them. One of them remembers her police detective father pointing a loaded gun at her head. Some of them escaped the loser label, some of them did not. Were any of us losers? No. We were survivors forced to cope with trauma by ourselves because other people labeled us losers.

My family is what I call a “murder secret family” When parents kill or attempt to kill their children and hide the crimes successfully, the entire family learns to keep the crimes a secret. Many family members keep the secret without knowing they are keeping that kind of secret. My mother manipulated everyone else to participate in keeping the secret, but only she and I knew what the secret was. Sometimes other children will know there is a secret, even if parents successfully kill one or more of their children. A child disappears, never spoken of again. But the siblings remember there used to be more of them.

Sometimes other siblings blame all sibling relationship problems on the sibling who survived attempted murder. My siblings absolved themselves of treating me like a member of their family by deciding I had caused all my own problems with my emotional, irresponsible behavior. Everyone else considered themselves innocent of everything. My surviving siblings probably still see me as a loser. To see me as I really am, they would have to see themselves as they really are. Murder secret family members keep secrets from themselves about their own loser behaviors. I left all of my relatives behind because they were all losers to me.

My mother hasn’t been able to completely hide her secret from herself. She has repeatedly told people what a “good mother” she is. I’ve never heard any other mother repeatedly describe herself as a “good mother”. I don’t. My mother keeps describing herself as a “good mother” to other people to convince herself that she couldn’t have possibly tried to kill her own baby twice.

The next time you see someone society labels a loser, remember my story.


Paula M. Kramer
© 2015 to the present.
All rights reserved.

Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks or months.


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  • Cecilia Leon said:

    Thank you for your generous sharing of your experience and triumphs. The label I put on myself was “failure”. “Loser”would creep into my consciousness from time to time. My mom died 6 years ago and at this age, 59, I’m being forced to deal with the effects of her narcissism and sociopath tendencies. The big memory now is when she pushed me down the stairs, which is why I googled “my mother tried to kill me” and I found your web page. I still can’t completely accept that she tried to actually murder me, but the facts are facts. I guess the conscious acceptance, grief, and anger will come with time, just as they have with the other memories that are haunting me. My life has been one big emotional flashback, but now at least I have some tools to work through it. I’m so grateful to know there are others out there like me. Thank you again.

    • Paula Kramer said:

      Tears came to my eyes when I read your comment. I’m very sorry that you went through similar experiences. Admitting the truth was one of the most difficult periods of my life. During that period, I had three blackouts in four months. I also spent about eight hours on what felt like the edge of insanity. It’s much better on the other side. Things will improve for you, too. I now call myself a “cloudy and rainy day smiler” because I know what matters now. Cloudy and rainy days are beautiful days because I am free of my mother everyday. I hope you get to that freedom.

    • Jill said:

      I have had every type of therapy since the age of 26.I am now 55. I was finally diagnosed with development trauma (complex PTSD) 2 years ago. I have not worked since 2011 and part time for the previous 20 years. I have obtained a PhD in marine biology – not bad for someone who was told I would never get any exams to my name. I have sensed for a number of years that my mum tried to suffocate me when I was very young but no memory only an overwhelming feeling that she did and very traumatic reactions when I woke up at night every time the baby next day started crying. Yesterday I realised it was true. My world has shattered. I have stopped running and the emptiness and emotional pain is unbearable. Thank you so much for sharing your story. There are so many similarities to my own.

      • Paula Kramer said:

        Congratulations on your PhD in marine biology!

        I never received a diagnosis of PTSD from a professional, but the symptoms fit my life. I believe I have complex PTSD as well. One therapist decided I was suicidal because I didn’t like myself and the solution to my problems was to find a man and get married. My next therapist believed the first therapist’s notes.

        My mind broke my memories into separate physical, mental, and emotional pieces. Those separate pieces became the clues to my mother’s attempts to kill me. They include:

        My first memory

        Terror of my mother and her reactions to anything I said, did, felt, or wrote

        Pains in my legs and feet

        Dreams and violent nightmares

        Suicidal depression

        Fascination with books and movies about people who had killed family members

        Fear of killing my own baby

        My abusive yelling at my daughter

        My condolences for your childhood. The Murder Secret Families page at speakingfromtriumph.com details my emerging understanding that my mother tried to kill me. I spent eight hours on the edge of insanity, then spent months feeling transparent. It is terrible for you now, but you will get through it and get past it. I’ve accomplished all kinds of things since. The second half of my life will be far better than the first half. It will be the same for you. Focus on taking care of yourself for now.

        A few years ago, I discovered a way to ease my PTSD terrors. I will soon republish a blog post about it. Perhaps it can help you discover your way of easing your PTSD.

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