Dream Analysis: #3

I won’t be going point by point quite like it did in Dream Shifts, Pt II. This dream wasn’t filled with so much specific symbology, i don’t think. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more of an overall commentary, rather than, this guy represents x, and this event represents y.

That being said, it is powerful, powerful imagery for me, and representative of a number of things. It is my brain diorama, a dream box, a mind play, representative of dichotomy, otherness, and conflict in my life.

I find the setting of an unofficially segregated graduation celebration most telling.
These children are celebrating the fact that they accomplished a great and difficult task. And yes, i call them children now, as i analyse the situation. I’m in my 50s and, as a parent, i know that if i’d lost one of my boys in their teen years, i would have wept and mourned them as children. In the scope of the bigger picture, older adults know that they are, indeed, children. The age my country ascribes to legal adulthood is arbitrary, and only necessary within our societal construct in order to maintain our current political framework. I mean, what i’m saying is we have to pick an age, because reasons. Because laws. Anyone in their 30s surely recognises that an 18yr old is still a child. Or at least in my opinion, they should be considered still children in some ways. I think of those years of say, 17-21 as transitional years. Still and all, i’d say adult maybe, but mature? Not necessarily.
So yeah, to me, which is what’s important to the analysis because it is my dream after all, they are children.

Back to the segregation of the white from the black children.
Why is it that they can all come together and party in the same place, but they cannot intermingle? This speaks to me of a number of my life issues. One, my mother instilling in me that we had to act “normal” and “fit in” around others, but her insistence that we were NOT like other people. She taught me that we were better: smarter and more evolved, and that other people weren’t capable of understand our ways because of it. A manipulation cleverly designed to hide the abuse, of course. Another issue this brings up for me is the othering that children do in school. There were rich and poor kids, advanced classes and remedial, which was decided by teachers sure, but you better believe kids understood the difference, and the crueler ones played on it. Then there was attractive and not attractive, which wasn’t necessarily based on actual looks (although it could be), but often more on if you were rich, or popular, or –as in the case of so many small towns whose schools i attended– if your family was well-established.

I don’t say this to be ignorant, but my 10yr high school reunion was an eye-opener. I had enough time and distance to see things through a different lens, and wow. Those that we’d held up as the most attractive and sought-after… I will diplomatically say that it wasn’t always the case. I will also further state, to save myself from being an arse like they were to me, that attractiveness is personal, arbitrary, and based on any number of criteria. And although i’m speaking from a purely aesthetic sense here, it is still and ever shall be, in the eye of the beholder. It’s just that i was treated as ugly, while others were touted as the most. gorgeous. EVER. I’m not ugly, and many of my fellow students that were likewise treated were not, either.

As i’ve grown and let go of a lot of the bullying i received growing up, i’ve found the lens through which i view physical attractiveness, is highly influenced by that person’s treatment of others. There’s a general sort of appeal to an aesthetic for me, but if a person is truly good and kind –even if initially i found their physical looks unremarkable– i find myself seeing them as more and more attractive.
That’s just me, though.

A more airy-fairy sort of interpretation is about my light and my dark. My conscious me and my subconscious me. My belief that i was one, and the truth that i am many. I want to be very clear here that this is just my brain and a dream. I’m not even distinguishing which group was light and which dark, which was conscious/subconscious. In the dream, the black children were stoic. I’m not sure what that speaks to. Is it just a reflection of some biases from my past? (My mother a vicious racist.) Is it my absorption of cultural, racial stereotyping from my past and my community? (I grew up in the 80s, in an area where there were almost no black or brown people, but plenty of uninformed opinions about said people.) I’m not sure, but i’m open to knowing. I’m not going to go on any further in that regard, because this is about my dream analysis, and my blog is not for socio-political issues. Just know that this blog is only about 1 particular aspect of my life, even though that aspect is enmeshed and far-reaching. I am a person who is more than childhood abuse and mental illness. I’m a multifaceted human being with myriad interests and many concerns – just like anyone else. In the dream, the white children were stuck up. I’m white, i grew up not knowing any non-whites except aboriginal people, and i wouldn’t characterise but a few as stuck up. I’m not sure what that means, beyond my brain was using established tropes to try and tell me something.
My brain will tell me if there’s more to it.
I want to know and it wants to tell me. Heh.

The most standout part after the segregation, is the part where i’m told to leave.
That and my reaction to it, seem to vibrate with meaning inside me.
It doesn’t take Freud or Jung or my therapist to tell me what that’s about.

1) You don’t belong here is the story of my life.
I was too poor, too weird, too fat, too mouthy, just tootoo much for everyone, everywhere i went. I was rejected by authority, by peers, by church members, by boys/men, and yes, even though it sounds maudlin and poor-meish – by society in general.

2) I was kicked out of certain areas of my brain for many years.
My system protected me from the truth until my mid-late 30s. I had dreams on and off, dreams that were actually memories, but i didn’t know that for a long time. I remember as a kid, daydreaming and my mind would stray over to a picture of the man i used to call Daddy. He was my mother’s married lover, and my second worst abuser, after her. I had no knowledge of him and what he was doing or what my mother was doing. I was entirely split off from those things. My Bits N’ Pieces were the ones dealing with the sexual abuse. So, i’m woolgathering and his face pops into my head. I’m feeling kind of weird: scared, nauseous, curious… And my brain would, i don’t know, some dissociative things are harder to explain than others. My brain would punt me into another part of my brain. Like, when i was at my babysitter’s house when i was very young, and i accidentally walked in on one of her teenage son’s using the downstairs bathroom (which was the only one i was allowed to use). I could see him sitting on the toilet as i was looking in the large mirror to my right, and he jumped up as quick as you’d think, and slammed the door closed. Like that.

As an adult i was almost always searching for a good therapist. I knew i needed help, i just couldn’t seem to find the right help for me. There were more times than i can remember (because i switch, because i’m a multiple, heh) that the person i was seeing would suggest what was called MPD (multiple personality disorder) at the time, and i would either never go back, or actually get up out of my seat and leave their office.
That was my system telling me, Nah, you need to go.

3) Inner commentary on where i’m at now.
The young, androgynous figure in the mirror is a good representative of where i’m currently at sexually. Although i’m queer, veering far closer to hetero, if i weren’t with my husband i’d consider and be capable of, strong feelings for anyone. I can’t say for sure, because i haven’t put it to the test. It’s my hope to stay in this monogamous, straight relationship for the rest of my life. But as i’ve dealt with the ways that sexual abuse affected me, and found some healing from it, and been able to be a better partner in my marriage, and dealt with my multiplicity… Well, i don’t know how i’d define it at this point. It’s personal and i’m not ready to say anything for sure but… Yeah, the mirror image has some meaning to me.

The Cher song.
My brain loves to irritate me with ear worms/whigs. That is my take on this one. Pfft.

The smug shit who tried to intimidate me.
That’s my mom, for sure, and how i went in anyway, and wiggled my ass at him after, is a sign to me that i’m breaking her control, in every way, more and more. Good stuff.

The sexually active kids in the booths.
I say kids because i don’t want to say children. Because i know what that’s about, and i don’t need to analyse that any further, and this blog doesn’t need any details.

**********

I think there’s probably more, but i don’t think it matters. I think what this is is just kind of a brain check-in.

Brain: So, you got this, eh? We’re all on the same page, right?

Me: Yeah, this is where we’re at.

Brain: Okay, cool beans.

If you actually read all this, wow. Internet cookie/hero sandwich, whatever. You pick, it’s yours.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Image: Emily Morter





Inspecting the Damage

WARNING: Discussion of self-harm, specifically head-banging. Mentions of binge drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders, also trichotillomania.

It would be disingenuous, or a lie by omission, to not post about my recent fall.
I didn’t wind up in the hospital this time, so YAY! but it was a bad one. If i’m gonna help myself, and have any hope at all of truly helping anyone else, it’s gotta be real, and it’s gotta be all of it. No convenient skip overs. There’s no need for TMIs most of the time; i can be tactful, and i’m respectful of others’ privacy. I know probably some of you will be saying, “Wait, your entire blog is TMI.” I would respond Yes, on a certain level, but trust me, there’s deeper and more awful. I don’t see the need for most details. I’m reconciled and almost comfortable, with being identified as a seriously mentally ill person. What i don’t want is for people to think of all the things that happened to me as a child every time they see me. What i don’t want is to plant specific images from my childhood in anyone else’s head. They are a terrible burden. And while i do need to blog/journal about it to a certain extent, there’s a line that doesn’t need to be crossed for me or any reader here.

I go to my therapist for the details, and even there, it’s rarely necessary. I went through disclosure many years ago, and it swallowed me whole for a very long time. I clawed my way out of the tiger’s mouth, and have no desire to ever be in its jaws again.

My therapy sessions have been a massive trigger for switching of late. Unfortunately, the way my system copes with triggers is to drink me into a coma (figuratively). I don’t even remember the end of the call, and they were off to the races. I was gone less than a week, but the damage was extensive:
– 2 broken fans,
– cracked mirror,
– holes kicked in bottom of bedroom door,
– broken 50″ television,
– concussion plus massive body bruising.

The shame and guilt are hard to bear, but i’m doing my best, so far. I understand that shame tells me i’m bad, versus guilt telling me i did something bad. The latter is true, but the former is not. It’s a lie that was programmed into my child-brain, by those who would control me to achieve their own selfish ends. I turn my attention then, to shame.
I’ve returned again and again to this in my blog since i learned it, and here i am once more. I suspect i’ll be working on this one for many years to come, but it’s all right, because now i know what to do.

My therapist told me some months ago, that shame is the body’s need for human connection. It may not make sense to anyone else, but it absolutely changed my life for the better. When shame comes upon me, i need another human to tell me i’m not bad. I’ve lived my life shame-based, and it’s such a powerful motivator, such a reflexive, driving force, that i simply can’t get out from under it without help. I require meaningful connection with another person. It’s like wearing a costume with the zipper in the back; someone else needs to unzip me before i can pull it down and step out of it. And i may even need help taking it off before i can walk away and leave it on the floor.

I’ve connected with my husband and son, and through them i’ve been able to let go of all but the self-harm. I hadn’t harmed myself in many years, and a return to this behaviour has me drowning in shame. Plus, the anxiety it brings me when i’m practically at maximum saturation levels already, has that elephant sitting on my chest again.

These last 2yrs of trying to mend the broken connections between my brain and body have been difficult, to put it mildly. The hardest part of it is not to dissociate through the work. To feel what i feel while knowing what i know. I spent years listening to my system, listening to my thoughts as i disclosed what had happened to me growing up. Now i listen to my body, because in an intangible and dare i say, rather esoteric way, my body holds my memories as much as my brain.
And as i say nearly every post, it is the hardest, most exhausting, most painful work of my life.

Therefore, i try not to fret overly about a return of some behaviours i’d thought long over and done with:
– the programmed imperative to GO HOME! when my system is in overwhelm, which involves immediately leaving wherever i’m at and whomever i’m with, and walking at a rapid pace towards the city where my abuse was most severe,
– the loss of days instead of mere hours,
– the involvement of law enforcement,
– hospital stays,
– head-banging and hitting of self.

The self-harm is a tough one to take on, though. It frightens me more than any.

The first time i considered self-harm i was 4yrs old. The first time i can remember banging my head i was also 4. It’s complicated. I consulted the internets to help me define what it’s about, because i knew, but it was so tangled up in my brain i needed help to identify the separate threads so i might unravel them. I know it was partially to punish myself for “being a bad girl”, but it was for more than that. I couldn’t bear the emotional pain i was in most of the time, but i could the physical. So it was a substitution of sorts. Finally, i think i used it to feel something, when i was in a dissociated state.

I learned quickly to make sure i was alone, and also not leave any visible bruises, or bang too hard, lest i leave a bump. My mother knew every bump and bruise on me, as she inspected me on the regular. She knew which ones she’d done, and which weren’t and by whom. The only time i wouldn’t be interrogated over a lump or mark she wasn’t familiar with, was when they were on my knees or elbows. For those, she simply admonished me for being such a klutz.

The head-banging only lasted until we moved away from the city i spent my first 9yrs in. Once she’d traded in her sick, twisted married man for a controllable underage boy, i dealt more with anxiety issues. That was when my trichotillomania began, which is not classified as self-harm, per se. I didn’t have to deal with the banging again until my late 30s, although i did still engage in self-harm prior, through highly disordered eating, binge drinking, and drug abuse. Once i began therapy around 12yrs ago, the head-banging stopped. I may have done so a couple of times after that, but i can’t remember.
To see its return worries me.

I was switched at the time of course, so i didn’t know once i was back in the face. I was doing my regular after-switch body check, and my heart plummeted when i saw the sheer number and severity of the bruises all over me. And the huge ones across my forehead made me want to throw up. My husband told me i’d locked the door to our bedroom and was screaming and bashing around in there while he was at work. Which means he learned through my son. I won’t stray off into that territory, because we’d wander far from what this post was intended to be and do. Suffice to say it made me feel sick, too. Which is when i realised i was probably concussed. I didn’t go to the hospital for a proper diagnosis, but i’ve given them to myself before, i know the symptoms, such as they are (vague and very like coming back from a switch), and i simply tended to myself as if i had one.

I’ve decided to take a short break from therapy. I don’t know for how long – i’m thinking 2wks – 1mth, but i’m going leave things open to change. Nothing’s firm. This last fall/episode/switch/binge/whatever has scared me. My system, my precious Bits N’ Pieces, are all merely children, regardless of the age they feign. And this was a full-on tantrum. I haven’t destroyed property or attempted to destroy myself, like that in a very long time. I think they’re beyond tired and cranky. And they are mine and my responsibility. >>I<< am mine and my responsibility. I’m still going to be writing, still doing the work, but easing back on the gas pedal a bit. Turning down the intensity. This work will not be stopped, but it can be slowed.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley


Image: Austin Neill

Dream #3

Possible Warning: This dream contains some discussion of race, specifically whites and blacks. I don’t think it’s about that*, but in today’s firecracker/tinderbox atmosphere, you may want to skip it.** It also makes some non-specific references to teenagers having sex in a public place.

**********

I know i haven’t done any analysis on #2 yet. I’ve decided to let that 1 go for now, as it causes me extreme distress.
Meanwhile i have a dream from this morning very fresh in my mind that i think is significant, so i’m turning my attention to it, for now.

**********

My friends and i hop a train into downtown for a night of clubbing. We’re having a good time bar and pub hopping, but as we’re heading to a club for some dancing, we learn about a hot ticket that changes our minds.
There’s prom going on at a huge venue, and it’s open to the public. The big draw is that it’s a music high school that’s known for the brilliant rap musicians that’ve been coming out of it. There’s food and drink for the purchase of a ticket, and then you can catch some fresh new stuff done by up and comers.

We’re all keen and quickly pay up and head in. It’s packed, with white and black youths alike, but i do make a passing observance that they seem to be sticking in groups of their own race. That’s not entirely unheard of in my world, so i head to where the main stage is. There are 3 black youths on stage, engaged in a rap battle. They’re all amazing. My friends are content to hang back, but i want to get closer.
I do the thing i’m so good at during concerts and other crowded events/spaces, which is dodging people to get where i want to go. It’s a skill i came to as an Amazon-size female. Especially when i was heavier, i was almost invisible to the people around me, and i unconsciously turned both things to my advantage. I walk so fast most people find it hard to keep up with me when i’m going full throttle.
I stride through open spaces in a flash, expertly turning into little empty spots and then taking large, fast strides again. I’m like that annoying car during rush hour, moving in and out of lanes. Except i don’t have the potential to kill people, and i actually get somewhere. Heh.

Once up at the front i listen for a while and then decide to get some refreshments. I see the kitchen is stage left and head in that direction, thinking i’ll see a serving area close by. I pass a lot of kids heading in various directions, and they’re all taller than me, like pro basketball tall. They’re dressed in the expensive kind of track suits, and i admire all of their footwear (i like shoes). They’re black and their faces are stoic, not one is smiling. That’s not altogether strange i tell myself, but it IS a graduation reception, and people are usually smiling and laughing and joking around.

There are full length mirrors lining the wall to my right. I look at myself and smile, This is not a problem. Everything’s fine!
It is a rare thing indeed, for me to see myself in dreams, but i see myself clearly in this one, and in full. I don’t look like myself – not even close. I’m young, not much older than the ones graduating, i’d guess. I’m tall and pale and freckled (okay, that part is correct), and i’m sporting a shoulder-length, strawberry blonde mullet with a little faux hawk. I’m dressed completely in blinding white. Too-big white t-shirt with some black writing on it – sadly, i can’t remember what it said. White, thick jean jacket, highly constructed, and it hangs past my hip area. My jeans are also too big and look like they match the jacket. I’m wearing huge-ass white kicks. The outfit would NOT be cheap. You cannot tell if i’m a male or a female. I smile again at my visage, and note that i look cute.

I veer off at the sight of tables, with young people eating and drinking. Some are standing at a bar where they’re clearly getting food and beverages. It looks cafeteria-style. Cool, don’t have to talk to people, and i head over. I’m distracted by some more music, even better (to me) than watching a rap battle. Someone’s rapping ahead of me, and i can hear percussion and beatboxing. I weave through some tables to get a better look. I watch for only a few seconds before i realise something is wrong. There are tables set in enclave atmospheres, with some privacy screening, similar to what we see today in stores, restaurants, transit systems and the like. On the way closer, i pass a preppy looking white boy who sneers at me.
It’s not the way the tables are set up though, it’s that i can feel stares at my back. They feel like ice. I turn around and sure enough, i’m met with glares from white and black young men – there are no girls.

One of them says, “Man, this place ain’t for you.”
I reply that i like the music, and just wanted to listen.
He says, “Nah, you need to go.”
“Okay,” i say, ” it’s your grad. Congratulations everyone.”

As i make my way out i’m met with pure hostility in every face, except the first preppy white dude, whose smug smile makes me want to punch him. I give him my best 100-watt one, and then as i pass i strut my stuff, just a little.
So he knows he hasn’t gotten to me.

Leaving the food and drink area and its clusters of tables and various kids playing their own music at them, i can suddenly feel how unwelcome, how unwanted i am there. With every step i’m met with turned heads masked with hostility and jabbing at me with icy stares. As i’m walking away, i see half a dozen large, metal doors, swing outward, bleeding kids from another area of the venue. And then i hear the music.

It’s Cher’s Shoop Shoop song. Ugh, the most saccharine, worst cover, and my least favourite of Cher’s. (Let’s be clear: i love me some Cher.)
That’s when i notice that everyone pouring through the doors is white.
I think, Is that where i’m supposed to be, then?
But that’s not where i wanted to be – not the music i wanted to hear!

I decide to leave. Don’t wonder where my companions are, because i’m always separated from my friends or whoever i start the dream with. Always. I head towards the door and notice that everyone is white. They’re all sitting at massive tables, in those fancy seats with the velvety coverings and the high backs. The seating is luxe and curves around the table, giving those sitting there some modicum of privacy. Like those booth jobs you see in Vegas, you know the ones? I scan the crowd and they’re all white, and all dressed to the nines: expensive suits, tuxes, obviously tailored, and incredible prom dresses, like they’re all Cinderella at the Ball. I also notice that every single face looks like the kind of smug, arrogant, snotty, schmuck i ever attended school with. Privileged and elitist. Looking for the weak sheep to torture and cut from the herd. Mean girls and bully boys, i call them. They’re the ones who treat you nicely until the teacher leaves the room, or recess, or lunch hour, or after school. Or seeing you at the store or at your job on the weekends.

As i’m shuddering at the thought and making haste for the doors, i hear it. Moaning. I look and see a young woman engaging in sex in her booth. I won’t describe any of the troubling imagery, but it looked extremely uncomfortable, and the booth was filled with male youth cheering them on.
Whatever, i think. I’m not walking past that. I’ll go around the other way.
NOPE. More booths and more kids doing all kinds of stuff that i personally find distasteful at the least, and highly triggering at worst.
I feel trapped and disgusted and hopeless. One particular act makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I wake up and run to the bathroom, the urge to vomit is so strong.

**********

*Upon writing it all out, it is CLEARLY about racial tension and segregation. Is it a metaphor for something in my life? I’ll work on that tomorrow.

**Also a gentle reminder that my blog isn’t a place for heated discussions or arguments. Thank you for your kind respect.

Image: Efren Barahona

Singing in the Dark

Heart of my heart i went down to the water to see you
But i couldn’t
I got lost in the eddies and captivated by currents

Mind of my mind i climbed up the mountain to hear you
But i didn’t
The wind was so loud so i picked a few wildflowers instead

Flesh of my flesh i delved deep in my dreams to meet you
But i shouldn’t
The dreams are lovely and terrible and i find it hard to leave

You are the water that threatens to take me
You are wind that will blow me straight off the cliffs
And you are the dream that will hold me in sleep forever

Song of my song i wrote this to sing for you
But i wouldn’t
And my throat ached at my resistance

Pain of my pain i reached out blindly
And i would
I sat still in the dark tonight and sang it to you

You are the one who gave your life for me
You are the reason my body yet breathes
I will sing to you now and always

I found you here and here you ever shall be

~ Mine, September 03, 2020

IMAGE: Pawel Szvmanski

Do Not Read

This is a dark time for me. This is the first time i’ve posted while i’m down the hole. All i feel is pain and all i am is ugly. I know these things aren’t true but i can’t shake them. Ms T said this is good work to get to a better place, but i feel gross and disgusting ALL. THE. TIME.

I want to ask her, to ask everyone — do you even know what happened to me?
It’s all so ugly and i’m swimming in it every day, all day. It was bad enough to watch it from the corner of the room. Now i feel it in my body. It’s terrible and revolting. I can smell it. I can’t smell anything else right now. The stink of it is all over me and my girl parts hurt. I want to be invisible and i want everyone to see me at the same time. This doesn’t make sense, i know. I’m so smart but i cannot understand this.
I want to shake everyone.
Do you know what happened to me?
It’s not a book or a movie. It’s not fiction. It’s not terribly romantic and poetic.
It’s vile and evil and it’s in my bones and i can’t see anything else right now.

I want to be good and a sign that you can survive bad things, but today i am lost and drowning and just so very tired of it all. How could she do this? HOW COULD SHE? She was my MOTHER. My. mother. And i’ve had to walk away from my entire family. I’ve lost everyone. And i was the one who was raped.
This is why i don’t write when i fall down a hole.
This isn’t helpful.
I’m so sorry, i’m just so broken.
Days like these i despair that i can ever get past this.

Okay, so pull something good out of this.
I’m alive, and that’s good. I survived the unsurvivable, and that makes me kind of amazing. My brain did a thing that saved my life.
It turned everything into a movie i was watching and then it tucked all the pictures into little dream pockets. It waited for the day when i watched and knew the truth. It kept it all safe and technicolor until i found someone to help us.
She’s so calm and she talks science to me because that’s my language.
She tells me it’s going to take moremoremore time. And i hang up and cry.
Please, do you even know what happened to me?
I can’t see this, feel this, smell this, one more bloody day.

I’m sorry. I’m down a hole.
This is how my brain works.
It’s amazing and awful.

Alone

Is this a poem?

I’m alone every day
Smiling at everyone
They can’t know
And that’s all i know

Is this a poem?

I make friends
These are my friends — i made them
You can’t see them
They’re only for me

Is this a poem?

You look at my face
You hear my voice and you think you know me
I’m a Russian doll, friend
You don’t know a thing

Is this a poem?

I can’t write for shit
You’re reading how i talk
Every day all day
To people on the internet

Is this a poem?

It most certainly is not
I tap it out all the same
I live my best life
Regurgitating every thought

This is not poetry

~ Mine, August 24, 2020

Time

Time creeps
Your eyes fixed on me
I can smell you
So strong i can taste it
Fear
Hate
Time swells
Lonely and lost
Ugly and stinking
You smile like pink frosting
Sweet
Pretty
Time ebbs
You’re wretched
Drenched in lies
Swollen with the overflow
Want
Need
Time flies
I’m here alone
Your cupcake was shit
I’m not even hungry
Full
Empty
Time bleeds
You’re all over me
I feel your heart
It ticks and trips
Dead
Gone
But i’m still here

~ Mine, August 23, 2020

Dream #2

WARNING: Relates an extremely disturbing dream involving sex, violence, and animals. This post could be highly triggering for some. Make sure you have your support stuffs in place if you decide to read.

**********

As i’ve stated many times, sleep has been an issue for the entirety of my life. It’s been so difficult that even my abusive mother sought treatment for me as a child. Granted, it was only because my screams regularly interrupted her own sleep, and also likely because she was keen to hide the abuse going on, but still. I couldn’t sleep, and when i could, i was plagued with nightmares. The doctor said i was suffering from “night terrors” and sent me to a psychologist or psychiatrist of some stripe. He taught me relaxation techniques, and told me about lucid dreaming. From him i learned to realise when i was in a dream and be proactive – whether that was to take charge within the dream, or just to wake myself up. It’s an invaluable skill that i’ve used throughout my 50+yrs.

Recently though, i’ve lost the ability to know i’m dreaming, and i’m troubled. I don’t know why this has happened, but over the last few months of intense dreaming, i’ve only known it was a dream a couple of times. I need the control back, as these sleep-movies have turned decidedly nightmarish, so i’ve begun journalling them again. I’m looking for clarity and control. They’ve become so problematic that my insomnia has returned, full force, which in turn makes managing my mental health issues that much harder. I can lose my shit, as it were, in mere seconds. I simply don’t have the energy to be mindful and considerate.
I need that lucidity to continue this work. So i’m taking a careful look at the dreams that don’t fade. I think the ones i can’t shake might be trying to tell me something.

This dream, unlike the last one, is a straight up nightmare. I’m going to restate my initial warning: this is awful and distressing and chock full of potential triggers. If you are a victim/survivor of sexual abuse, make sure you have your supports in place if you decide to read this. My dream journal isn’t for everyone. It’s mostly for me, but i share it just in case it helps someone out there to know they aren’t alone. My brain’s machinations produce twisted, scary stories to tell me while i sleep.

Dream #2

My husband and i are at home (i don’t recognise the house), and we’re taking care of our nephews on his side. That’s weird, because there’s only one IRL, but in my dream there are 3 or 4. It’s almost Christmas, and although hubs and i don’t celebrate religious holidays, in the dream we’re decorating and planning a big meal for the kids. They’ve brought all of their computer and gaming equipment, which they’ve set up in our living room. It takes up all the space, to the point where it’s hard to move around.

My husband is preparing something in the kitchen, and the boys are gaming and talking animatedly to me and to each other. I’m futzing around on my own laptop, when i get a DM request. It’s from a man, and i’m instantly brittle and electric. I can feel the evil coming from his screen shot. I quickly click it closed and ignore it, going back to my social media and games, etcetera. One of the boys says something to me, and when i look back at my screen, the request is there again.
Hey, wanna chat?
I want to show you something.

My guts churn and i click it closed again, but it pops right back up, immediately. His profile pic is only the top of his face, gazing over something. His hair is dark and curly and his eyes seem to be looking right at me. I click it closed once more, and this time 2 identical windows pop up.
Hey, wanna chat?
I want to show you something.
I think you’ll really like it.

I click them both closed and 1 of my nephews, the 1 i actually have IRL (he’s maybe 13, but he’s actually grown up, now) says, Hey Auntie, would you be mad if i wanted to go home? I say No, not at all, let me help you get your stuff together. We go over to his setup, which has 2 monitors, and i see the chat invitation on both of his screens. I immediately run back to my laptop and see a half dozen chat requests, all him, all saying the same thing. I exclaim, OMG, i think i’ve been hacked!

I try to click them all closed, but my hand is moving so slow, like it’s asleep. More chat windows are popping up, and he’s texting more things.
Would you like to see this?
This is very interesting.
I want you to look at it.
My guts feel like there’s a lead balloon floating around inside. I yell at my husband, Come and help me, i’ve been hacked! I look up and all of my nephews screens have the request on them, multiple times.

I run into the kitchen and beg the hubs to come and help me. He smiles inanely at me and assures me that he doesn’t mind taking our nephew back home. He says, I need a litre of vodka for this ceviche anyway. I look down and he’s throwing shrimp and scallops into a camping style cooler. It stinks and the fish doesn’t look right. Exasperated, i run back into the living room and try to close all the open chat windows on my computer.
I can’t, and he starts sending me pictures.
They’re pornographic in nature.
I scream at my husband in the kitchen to come and help me because i’ve been hacked. Then i notice that the images are showing up on my nephews’ screens, as well. I immediately freak out because 1, they’re porn, and 2, my sister-in-law will KILL me for exposing them to pornography. Every screen i look at has pornographic imagery, and at the top of every screen is his chat invitation. His face. His eyes, looking at me.

I start grabbing blankets and towels and trying to drape them over the boys’ computer screens, but they won’t stay up. They slip off no matter what i do. The boys are running around the living room and giggling and pointing. And every time i look there are more screens to cover. I suddenly have 2, then 6, then a dozen televisions and monitors in the room, and they’re all showing the porn with his chat at the top.
Hey, wanna chat?
I want to show you something.
I think you’ll really like it.

I’m crying and trying to get the boys to go upstairs and play.
And that’s when the porn escalates.
It becomes extreme.
(I will not be describing these images, save the one that i know i MUST deal with. )
These are a mix of sex and violence and every subgenre of porn that most people find distasteful/disgusting.*

I’m purposefully ignoring them as i frantically rush around the room, screaming for help, that i’ve been hacked, and trying to cover up the screens, in a vain attempt to protect my nephews from the violent sexuality being depicted. And over it all i can hear the ding, ding, ding of more of his texts flooding every screen.

That’s when i’m caught by some of what i see. There are college students in canoes, naked, being pulled into the water. Then they’re on a football field, being chased by men carrying big sticks. They bash any student they can catch, mercilessly, and they lie around on the grass in lumps of flesh and blood.
Ding, ding, ding.
His eyes are looking at me.
Hey, wanna chat?

And as i look away from his gaze i see it. The imagery has become progressively more disturbing and now i see it and cannot look away.

It’s a man and 2 or 3 women. They are lying in a large puddle of mud in the middle of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. They’re covered in hundreds of hissing black snakes, and they’re hurting dogs. (I won’t be more specific.) The dogs are drowning in the mud, and i scream myself awake.

This dream troubles me so deeply, that i haven’t been able to sleep well since i had it. Every night before i try to rest, i say to my brain, We will NOT be having this dream again. That’s fine; i’ve learned to control my dreaming life somewhat over my lifetime. The problem is it enters my mind every night and fills me with terror and disgust. Just the thought of it makes sleep nigh impossible.

I know i have to figure this one out if i’m to ever enjoy decent, regular sleep again.
I’m afraid of the process here. This kind of thing doesn’t usually scare me that much. I mean, my system kept my memories safe, but hidden in my dreams for years. I’ve had ugly, violent, disturbing dreams ever since i can remember a dream. But there is something about this one that chills me. I think about it during the day. I rue the approach of night. There is something here and i’m afraid of what it is.

That’s enough for now. I’m all wound up and i know sleep will be hard to find tonight, but it’s just gonna have to be that way. I’m already exhausted by the telling of it. I feel see-through and cold in my bones. My brain is sizzling.

I’ll turn my efforts to this tomorrow. Tonight i’m going to distract myself with food and television, and the love of my husband and son. I hope anyone reading this is okay. I fretted about writing it down, let alone sharing it. I think (hope) perhaps, it’s only upsetting to me.

This is my dream journal. It’s weird and also weird (plus a bit weird), but i have a gut feeling that it’s important for me to do this. It’s been my experience that gut feelings aren’t always correct, but they are worth listening to.

While i do currently feel like a live wire (PUN!) i’m hoping i can settle into a place where i can learn what this dream might be trying to tell/teach me.

Hang in there reader, y’hear?
I’m doing my best.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*This is not a judgment. This is not a discussion of pornography. What it is, what it isn’t, what’s okay/not okay. This is a generalisation, and i make it because it’s important to understanding my dream.

People Aren’t Puppets

WARNING: This post contains some description of childhood physical abuse.

Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.
~ Madeline L’Engle


Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the behaviour or perception of others through indirect, deceptive, or underhanded tactics.

My mother could play people like Strauss played the violin. Well, she could play some people. Looking back, i can see there were some giving her a wide berth. I’m gonna guess she had a toxic stink on her for those self-aware enough. Once we moved out of the city and began living a throwaway life in various small towns, things steadily changed. Her sick was beginning to show. It started when she picked up a stray boy to do her bidding. He was 14, and she was 32. It’s hard to maintain your mini-guru status when you’re sexually assaulting someone on the regular. Even if we mightn’t have called it what it was back then (and that’s what it was), it made others intensely uncomfortable and outright disgusted. Isolated and mostly alone in a trailer park at the edge of town, she gained weight and lost all her friends.

Once she had the boy firmly under her thumb (he moved in with us when he was 15), she began squirting out babies every couple of years. She put on pregnancy weight and it never came off. She stopped cleaning her house. She stopped cleaning herself. I’d like to think it was guilt over the past, but i think it far more likely that her monstrousness had become too much for her to handle. She was consuming herself from the inside. Eating her own poison caused her to become bloated and bilious on the outside. She looked wrong, she smelled wrong – on a psychic level. From then on the only card she had to play was pity. She still caught a number of unfortunates in her web, but it was far fewer, and they never stuck around for long. Her mask slipped quite regularly. She’d mostly cut off contact with me before she died, but at her funeral i saw she’d been enjoying quite the resurgence of her sick and sticky influence. She was in a 12-step program and had joined a church – perfect places for a 600lb tumour of a human to bang her pity drum and have a parade behind her. They wept into their tissues as they told me how much she meant to them.

They’ll never know how fortunate they are that she died. She would have taken whatever they’d give her, and then cut them to ribbons on her way out.

I’d watched her manipulate people my whole life, although i didn’t see it for what it was, back then. That was just how we did things at my house. We hid our true selves from the outside world. Other people wouldn’t, couldn’t understand our ways – we were too intelligent, too evolved, psychically, spiritually, intellectually. We were on a higher level. As soon as someone’s back was turned or was out of earshot, my mother had nothing nice to say about them. I watched her smile and charm her way through single motherhood in the big city. I watched her hold her own with large groups of professors and grad students. And then parts of me watched her behaviour when we were alone at home. Her emotional meltdowns, her beating and starving me, her renting me out for money, gifts, favours, and the attention of 1 particular man.

I watched her deftly handle teachers in interviews, blaming me for every issue that was brought up. I watched her charm my friends at sleepovers or car rides or at school functions. She could ease them past their fear and disgust over her size in mere minutes. Connecting with fellow students years later they’d ask after her, Hey, how’s your mom? She was always so cool. When i’d tell them she died young, they were so sad for me.

I watched her in therapy sessions. With me as a kid and her riding shotgun, with both of us through churches and government run agencies. She’d seek help for me, and it’d always end up being about her. She’d been abused as a child and now she had this troubled daughter who couldn’t sleep and wasn’t getting high enough marks at school and was struggling socially. How she was doing everything in her power and availing herself of every opportunity, and i was still such a problem. I was stubborn, i was a compulsive liar, i never did my homework… How was she supposed to cope with all of that AND make a living? She had them nodding sympathetically and eating out of her hand in 20mins or less. She knew all the buzzwords and dog whistles and they lapped it up. Meanwhile, if my performance hadn’t been spot on, when we got home she’d beat the crap out of me. Sometimes she’d be so mad she couldn’t wait until we got home and would beat me in the car. She bounced my head off the dashboard so hard once, that it cracked. She’d point out the crack occasionally, just by way of reminder to behave or else.

I watched and i learned and i behaved.

All this to bring it back to what i’m dealing with today. Today i know how to manipulate people to get what i want. To read them, to know their currency and their weaknesses and through that knowledge, get my needs met. In the distant past, i can see where i did work people to get their acceptance, but it was an unconscious thing. I’d been taught to figure out what people wanted and give it to them. I’d been taught to blend into the group, chameleon-like. I wasn’t purposefully disingenuous. And i was never on the grift, like her. I never took anyone’s money. I never paraded myself, my past, or my children for cash, or gifts, or help of any kind. I hid my need from others. I only ever had a couple of friends who knew when i was down and out, and they had to force me to take their help (they were generous and kind to do that, i know).

I don’t socialise much anymore, and almost never in big groups, so i don’t have to worry about my must-fit-in programming so much. I have a few friends i can be myself with – or at least practise being myself. I thought my manipulative days were behind me.
Frank and intensive introspection has recently shown me that that isn’t the case.

The manipulation was subtle, embedded in care-based action. First, it starts with my children. I finally became aware of it with my youngest. He’s grown but is still at home for now. He has some serious issues that he needs safety and space to work out, and we’re glad to provide for him. Some if not all of them, can be traced back to being born to and raised with, a survivor of severe trauma who has multiple mental health diagnoses. As i’m working on my own stuff, i watch him work on his, and i think back to when he was in school. I see his struggles in various areas, and i see me trying to get him the help he needed. I attend meetings, so many meetings. Meetings they called, meetings i called. Taking him for tests and more tests. Trying this, trying that, nothing working, constant fretting, so much emotion, so much stress. And today i see how much of it could have been avoided, if i hadn’t been unconsciously manipulating things to get the outcome >>i<< wanted. I wanted him to do things and be things in his life that he wasn’t necessarily interested in. I hung my own unfulfilled hopes and dreams on him. I compounded his stress and anxiety.
Tough pill to swallow, but it’s mine to take.
This led to some insight into other areas where i’ve been trying to make others do what i want.

I’ve written about my crappy parenting and how i’ve apologised to my boys and they all forgive me and still love me. I’ve gone on about how i’ve offered myself to them for therapy – both to pay for it, and be present at any session they’d want. But what i didn’t see was how i apologise too often – i bring it up too much. And the uncomfortable truth of it is that i want them to make what i did okay for me. I want THEM to fix MY feelings. I want them to go to therapy and be mad at me so that i can feel more at peace. I know i don’t get to tell them how to handle their past, but i was missing the selfishness that was enmeshed in the best of intentions.

Which brings me to my husband. Same thing. I wanted him to get help for his past because i thought it was the right thing to do. Our marriage had serious problems and i decided how we should handle it. I decided that because i was wallowing around in my shit that he should, too. I was reminded of the time i forced him to tell his mother he wasn’t religious. She didn’t need to know and he didn’t want to tell her. I was religious at the time and i just decided that it was the “right” thing to do. Truth is, i think i wanted to punish him for not coming along into my religious beliefs/community. Ugh. What a shitty thing to do. It was manipulative, pure and simple.

Just like trying to force him into therapy. In my defense, i truly believed i was doing the right, good thing. I wanted to help. I wanted everyone to be happy and healthy and for us all to get along. What i didn’t see or understand, was that i was trying to manipulate others into MY vision of what happy/healthy looks like, and force those i love into employing MY ideas for how we get there.
None of them have to deal with their trauma at all, let alone in the way i’m dealing with mine. There are many out there in the world who shut it down and put it away. They don’t talk about it, they don’t get therapy, and they have the life they want. Or they don’t have the life they want. Either way, it’s their choice. Their quality of life or lack thereof, is none of my business, and that includes those closest to me that i love.

It’s humbling, to be sure, but i’ve been mulling this over for a few weeks now, and the sting has gone out of it. It’s just the truth, and i am a truth-seeker. I’d rather know than not know. Even if it hurts. Even if i have to look at ugly parts of myself and take responsibility.
What i know today is that i will show up for my family whenever and however they want me to — IF they want me to.
And that may never happen.
And i’m just gonna have to sit with the uncomfortability that comes from not being able to FIX everything so that >>i<< can feel better.

Man, growing up sucks sometimes.
Still totally worth doing.
I’m gonna keep at it.

Hope y’all are hanging in there as best you can.
I’m still here, so i’ve got that goin’ for me.
Heh.

Love and Peace,
~H~

No More Parties?!

So, today isn’t gonna be the day i start, either. *sigh*
I’ll try again tomorrow, but today my heart is just too low. My energy level is practically zilch. I think the best thing to do is give it 1 more day. The stress headache from Tuesday’s therapy is still thumping away mightily, and i’ve been hit with a fibro flare-up, just to make things that much more fun.
Discernment and flexibility – i haz it.

I suppose if i’m not gonna be Little Miss Getshitdone, i should at least write. My head feels like it’s packed full of cement though, and with that jackhammer going on up there too… i’m blanking out. *sigh *

Perhaps some pandemic not-prose-don’t-make-me-say-poetry? Hm.

**********

Party Poem: External

I show up late to the party
Most of the people are gathering their coats to go home
Piled up on the bed in the spare room
Minglings of perfumes and colognes
Can i take your coat?

I sit down on the biggest couch
It’s the best chance i’ve got at not sitting next to anyone
Unfortunately only the drunks remain
So a guy sits down almost right away
How you doin’ tonight?

His breath is so toxic i grimace
It was involuntary and i zero in on his reaction
I needn’t have worried at all
He’s busy charming the pants off himself
Do you know anybody here?

I mumble out that i know the hosts
He launches into a frantic and slurred tale
My friends are his old college buddies
They’ve known each other forever
How do you know them?

I tell him the woman is my sister
This was the wrong thing to say as it gives him an excuse
Drawing close with his whiskey and garlic laced breath
He acts like he’s considering it
So you’re the younger one right?

I blush and begin to sweat
This means i look red and juicy like a steak
I probably smell like meat at this point
He thinks i’m flattered
Can i get you a drink or three?

I suddenly blurt out Excuse me!
I’m absconding to the bathroom at top speed
I pray that i won’t trip over anything
I’ll go to church tomorrow please if it could be empty
Hullo, anyone in there?

I avoid the mirror and sit down
I already know what i’ll see on my turgid face
The flat-out wide-eyed panic
I quietly convulse in a sob or three
Hullo, anyone in there?

I force my voice past the stone in my throat
I let them know i’ll be right out
Swiping furiously at my eyes
I look at my hands and remember i put on mascara
Oh geez are you kidding me?

I fix up the mess as best i can
I knew i should’ve worn the waterproof kind
Using toilet paper and water i work quickly
Keeping my head down i walk out and apologise
I hope everything’s okay?

Now the panic is bubbling up
I don’t know why such a stupid thing just came out of my mouth
I make my way to the spare room and then dash to the front door
Made it a full 20 minutes this time, i say
Why do i have to be like this?

Party Poem: Internal


Swinging door sucks in the cold
Pulling me in with fingers of air and flesh
Flushed skin and frantic smiles
Boozy air with a note of sweat
Smile, dammit, smile!

Pillowy couch threatens to eat me
Perching birdlike i puff out my feathers
Staccato bursts of laughter
I ruffle fluff and side-eye the room
Oh no, don’t sit here!

Open mouth saying smelly words
Fevered lips and hungry teeth wet with a swollen tongue
Yellow paste from cigarettes
My belly hitches and my pits itch
I’m overheating already!

Eyes like hungry mouths move over me
The stink of him and the pounding air
His words like syrup left out with no lid
Too thick and sticky he drowns little gnats
I don’t want this, go away!

My responses trickle out like an old creek
Tripping like i once did at hopscotch
I draw to one side with a lurch and a terrible squeak
I am that one shopping cart
Back up buddy, you’re too close!

My face fills up like a balloon
I’m hot and stretched thin and ready to pop
Full of unspent air and held breath
Hot and brittle like candy
Ohmygod he’s leaning in, nonono!

My legs kick out from me violently
Like a newborn colt trying to stand
The music crawls inside my head and punches
My soft brain cries as it guides me
I must get away right now!

Quiet relative coolness and the good kind of dark
Unlike the dark outside the door full of grave shadows
I pant like a dog at summertime’s peak
My guts wringing me with anxious hands
Someone’s at the door!

I’m too little for this but so big
I can’t fill the space but there’s no room for me
I’ve got to leave but i don’t want to go
I want to go home but must first brave the gauntlet
Stop it now, everyone will see!

I’m 5 and the floor is lava
Wild bears and dragons surround me on all sides
The hot air pulls tears and breath and sweat
I’m melting as i make for the door
Don’t anyone try to stop me!

Booming bass like ship cannons
My guts float up and grasp the base of my throat
Food and bodies and booze invade my nose
Rubbery legs cross the space to freedom
I’m out i’m okay i’m safe, breathe!

~ Mine, August 19, 20, 2020