Dancing Days

Let me speak to you of my hope
in terrible poetry
The words spring from this old tongue
and bounce across the screen
I’m old but i’m young, too
New and fresh and filled with vigor
Keen to be up before sunrise
and curious about the day
Walking the dogs with dance steps
Thirstily drinking the view
Breathing in the smell of the grass
like pure oxygen, giddy
Mooing playfully at the cattle
Prancing about in tree cotton
It covers the ground like snow
and makes me itch
I giggle and chatter at my doggos
and answer back in silly dog-voices
Breezing through the front door
i pant much like my mates
Sweaty and hungry
i put together a plate
Eating robustly while connecting online
i still feel the promise of the day
It courses through me like a rainbow, sparkling
It spills into my heart and pours out my eyes
It fills my words with music
and i sing into the air
The music dances, too

~ Mine
June 19, 2020

I Am Amazing

And isn’t it amazing?
Oh
Life can be amazing
Oh
I feel my heartbeat racing
I fly
Soaring ever higher I can light my inner fire
And then we’ll see what happens now, what happens now
~ Pink Zebra, Amazing

I’m hitting a good stride with living day-to-day. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but i’m trying not to think about that, as i know that can be all it takes to trip me up – fear and doubt lead quickly to obsession. I have many years of experience that tell me i will occasionally fall down a hole, or get lost in the weeds. Living with multiple-diagnosis, serious mental illness, makes it fairly likely, i think. I’m almost reconciled to it, and i’ve turned my attention to getting as skilled as i can at picking myself back up, learning what i can from the fall, and getting back to the business of being as functional and helpful of a human being as i’m able.

I’ve explained why i call myself Histrionica – in short, because i’m dramatic. My emotions have been hard for me to handle. In the past i felt them intensely when i felt them at all, and tended to discharge them in a hyperbolic (histrionic) fashion. Even though i’ve learned a lot and am moving away from that, i’m keeping the name. Part of my personality that i may have been born with, or might have developed out of my mutant imagination/multiplicity, is that i’m a hell of an actor. So it still fits, just in a slightly different, and much healthier way.

Now let me share why my last name is Butterfly. Sure, it’s obvious, but my therapist wants me to celebrate what makes me awesome, so i’m writing about it. One can easily equate my life with that of a caterpillar, wingless, but with many different sets of feet, all working together to get me where i needed to go. When i finally got there, i could at last rest, the worst was behind me (fingers crossed, let’s employ some optimism here), and so i built a dream room around me and went to sleep. I did so much work there, in my dreaming room, on my soft and safe bed. Transforming myself into what i should have been. A transmutation from sleep into wakefulness, from death to life.
Now, i am emerging and preparing to fly.
I wave my wings back and forth to help them dry, and i admire their intricate and unique beauty.

I say it often, but it will always bear repeating, for me if no one else: I am not who i was born to be. I was brought into this world to serve the needs and whims of my mother, and through my utter subservience to her, i should have become a thing easily used by anyone who wished after her complete ownership of me had passed.
And while it happened on a smaller scale here and there, mostly through my friendships with (some) other women, it didn’t happen with men, which was an unexpected and good thing.

While i identify as queer, i’ve mostly dated and had relationships with men. Perhaps my first relationship, which was deeply obsessive, incredibly immature, and painfully toxic –and with a woman– left me gun-shy towards women for anything but an occasional bed partner. And now, with a much more experienced and knowledgeable eye i can look back on my involvement in the LGBTQ community and see that all manner of presentations of genders and sexual identities were open to me. It doesn’t change anything on the outside, as i’m in a committed, monogamous, hetero relationship, but it does add something more to the mosaic of colours and patterns of these glorious wings of mine.

And despite the fact that my mother was the first to sexually abuse me, she was viciously homophobic. She knew i was with a woman when she died. At the time i was still very much under her control, so i was ashamed. Now, i know it must have twisted her up and filled her with angry hate, and i’m glad.

Another way i am not who i was raised to be is that i’ve mostly managed to avoid sexual entanglements with controlling people.
I should have been easy prey for such a one. I should have hooked up with another sociopath like my mother, who would have seen me as a possession, a vessel to hold their emotional garbage, a font ever-flowing with love and acceptance, a resource to be used up and emptied out until nothing remained. A few abusers tried, but i was either oblivious, or danced blithely away from their overtures.
Amazing that i did that, but i did.

Cue my choice in partner. My husband is not controlling, nor is he controllable, and to my shame, i have tried very hard to do so. Falling in love with him brought out all my fear-based and rejection-avoidant bad behaviours. He’s borne it all with patience, forgiveness, and more generosity and kindness than i have ever known. I knew i wanted him, but more than that, i was able to see that he was a quality human being. I gravitated toward good and kind, which is quite amazing – both being able to identify those characteristics, and in wanting them from the person i was in a relationship with.

Eventually, through the tumult and upheaval of our first decade of marriage, i found a therapist to whom i could actually speak. Actually my husband found her. I’d seen dozens of mental health professionals over the years and had almost given up finding someone who could help me. In desperation he called our local women’s shelter for advice, and they just happened to have a trauma informed therapist on staff who specialised in… multiples. I still chuckle every time i think of it.

And here comes the reeeeally awesome stuff.

I got down to work right away, and i’ve never stopped since i started working with her. It did take some time to establish trust and to build rapport, but once we had that foundation, i’ve tried everything she’s suggested (eventually, heh). I’ve turned an unflinching eye inward and looked at my past. I’ve picked it apart and i’ve poked at the wounds. I’ve felt absolute terror at the prospect, and yet i stopped lying and hiding, both from the truth of my abuse and from the way my brain works now as a result of it all. I tore down the altar that my mother’d built inside me for me to worship her, and i’ve burned that bitch in effigy, over and over, until all of her lies were ash inside me, and i spat them on her grave.

I’ve lost dear friendships to this work. Some i’ve let go of, and some have walked away. Some did so without a word, others had to hurt me before they left. I’ve cut off contact with all family, because they live in a world that i cannot and will not. I was either the scapegoat or the emotional dumping ground for them – usually both. Considering that my #1 job since birth was to absorb other people’s toxicity, the absolute priority being my mother’s, and then my Daddy’s, then my stepfather’s, then my siblings, then my extended family’s, this is an amazing accomplishment. More amazing still is that i no longer regret a single loss.

When my therapy moved from the initial big crisis, that being when my dissociative behaviours were completely out of my control, and we were able to move into much deeper stuff, i had more housecleaning to do. My manias and social anxiety had put my lifestyle in an unhealthy place. I was engaging in high risk activities with people whose lives revolved around these activities. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concepts my dear Ms T was presenting to me in our sessions, nor could i turn my brain to the work. I was too frequently altered (that’s an unintentional DID joke, and i just snorted loudly, almost waking my husband, who’s sleeping beside me as i type), by any combination of drugs, alcohol, and social interactions.
So the next amazing thing i did was i left it all behind, and cut off almost all contact with the world outside my Little Crooked House. I let go of my addictive approval-seeking and need for validation. I set about learning how to get all the things that i so badly sought, from myself, and only myself.

Even when i thought i was done with therapy (i SO was not), i continued working on me. I had learned enough to know how to keep moving forward. Small, sustainable tweaks to my lifestyle, my relationships, and my thought patterns. Baby-stepping, with patience and forgiveness when i’d fall or fail – as i did regularly.
I learned how to live a functional life as a multiple – amazing.
I began losing weight and gaining fitness – amazing.
I was discovering what i wanted in life and was heading in that direction – amazing.
I found my voice to ask for what i wanted and state what i didn’t want from others –the ability to say No– amazing.

The next thing was venturing back out into the world to figure out who i wanted in it and who i didn’t. To test where i fit and felt good and where i didn’t or no longer wanted to. I socialised and participated in regular, day-to-day life stuffs, and as i bounced myself off the people and situations i encountered, extraneous chunks of personality that i’d carved into myself were chipped away. I began to see what was and wasn’t me. Amazing.

I felt a shifting inside my system, a reshuffling of the deck. I felt the gravity of what was happening and knew i needed to return to therapy. I didn’t dawdle or procrastinate – i sat my ass back down in a chair across from Ms T and started talking. And listening, and following her suggestions. More work, deeper work, more difficult and painful and constantly tiring than it had been before, but i waded into the fray and began resolutely baby-stepping my way through it. Amazing.

I’m still in it, still slogging through this particularly muddy trench, more psychically tired than i have ever been as an adult, but i remain true to myself, unswayed, unbowed, and less broken. I am gathering my shards and fragments to me and puzzling it all back together.
Gold fills the cracks.
I am Kintsugi.
I am not who i was intended to be.
I have fought my way out of a place where few who go are able to escape.
I am HistrionicaButterfly, and i am amazing.
I know that one day soon i’ll fly.

I believe that the gold to fill our cracks is inside us.
I believe there is light in the world to help us see it.
I believe there are tools in the world to help us mine it.

Times are scary and hard right now, but i’m hanging on. I keep company with those that are lights, and i use all the tools at my disposal. In spite of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds me, i am baby-stepping still. And that includes doggedly pushing through this bit of therapy homework that Ms T calls “celebrating self”. She looks at me with proud, wet eyes and calls me “miraculous” and “superhero”. It doesn’t make my skin crawl half as much as it used to, and i believe there’ll come a day when it won’t at all.

Do what you can, and try to cut yourself a break for what you cannot.
Love and Peace in This Current Madness,
~H~

To Be a Real Girl

WARNING: This piece contains discussion of suicidal ideation and a description of an attempt. However, this is a positive piece and i am not currently suicidal, nor am i experiencing ideations.

**********

More on Tuesday’s therapy sesh with the lovely and talented Ms T.
I shared with her that i’d fallen so low that i was experiencing some serious suicidal ideation, and i was deeply disappointed in myself for it. I haven’t dealt with those thoughts and feelings in any serious way for a solid number of years. Sure, there had been some brief moments, sometimes intense, but i saw them for what they were as they were happening. They held no power over me. I could see that they were a direct response to something i was going through at the time, or something that had triggered me. I knew how to weather it, and that it would likely pass quickly. It always did.

This time the thoughts and feelings persisted. It’s been a shadow in my head casting a pall over my heart. I’ve been thinking that my loved ones would be better off without me. That i take up too much space and use up too much of their time and energy. I’ve been feeling unworthy of their love and support and concern. I see how much of our family business is in fact, my business. When i’m manic, or my system is in a panic, i stir everyone up. When i’m depressed and drowning in sadness and remembered pain, i clutch at them to save me, but it seems like i just pull them down with me.
I used to be angry about that – thinking it was because as the keeper of the home and hearth, i set the tone. I would think, Dammit! Stay out of my process, you make me feel guilty for being where i’m at – go be where YOU’RE at. This spot here is mine and these feelings are mine and just… Just stop copying me!
(That’s my Littles talking there; i’m not generally that immature. Heh.)

Now i see it differently. I see my responsibility in it –i did before, too– but it’s got a sour taste to it. Before, the conclusion i came to was that it was only natural, that as the carer and nurturer of the family unit, i would set the tone for the household. It made perfect sense that my other family members would feel low when i was down, would be brittle when i was anxious, warm and smiley when i was happy, snarky and snappish when i was angry. We love each other and we’re deeply connected. I’m the life-bringer, the nourishment provider, the space-maintainer. It is only the way it could be, considering the way our family is structured. That perspective felt right and good. But the way i see it now was working through me like slow poison.

I see how i’m hurting the people i love most and it’s dragging me down into an abyss. And i’m currently fighting a mania. One might think there is no darkness in mania, but oh, there can be for me. When i’ve gone dark during a mania i’ve displayed the riskiest behaviours, put myself in the most danger. I’m like a hurricane at night. It’s a terrible place, where some of my parts are swallowed whole, and the automatic death puppets in me come out and begin eating everything in sight.
I’m disappointed in myself, sad and low, and that empty pit inside has opened back up. I tell her i’m ashamed that i’m at this place again, after all these years and all this work.

I’m reminded first that shame is my body’s signal that i’m wanting connection with another human. And it is so, as i learned from her a few months ago, anytime i’ve felt shame i’ve been able to easily trace it to that desire. I’ve been able to ask for connection from safe people, like my husband and children, and a friend or 2, and shame has disappeared as the connection is responded to and made.
But then she casually says that she’s not at all surprised that i’m struggling afresh with suicidal thoughts and feelings. I don’t understand, but i am paying close attention. And then she says, “This work you’re doing – you are giving the same attention and care to your body as you have to your brain, and the split off bits of you that live there.”

I almost lean into the phone. Yes. Tick, tick, tick…

“How do you think your body felt when all those terrible things were being done to it?”

I can hear my own sharp intake of breath. Yessss. CLICK.

I wanted to die. I felt so covered in filth i wished i could stop existing. I wished it so hard in fact, that i created a Land of the Dead inside my own brain, where i went and hid for the majority of my upbringing. When the worst of the abuse was finally over, one of the first things i did was take an overdose of the medication i took for epilepsy. When my Daddy was finally out of my life, and my mother moved to a little town where no one knew i’d once been for sale, i had some relief for the first time i could remember. I poked my head out from my safe graveyard, and i simply could not deal with any of it. My first impulse was to match my outside with my inside. To be dead. I remember swallowing dozens of those little white pills. I see myself like an automaton, hand to mouth, zombielike. Dead, but breathing. I was completely numb. I couldn’t feel my hands or my legs or my face, or anything else. The air around me was foggy and filled with invisible bees.
And then i see myself putting the glass in the sink, and the bottle back in the cupboard, and going to my room to read.

My mother had suspected i wasn’t taking my meds and had counted them the night before. She counted them again, not long after i’d taken them. She yelled at me while taking me to emergency, where they pumped my stomach and then filled me full of ipecac, just to be sure. It was the nicest thing she ever did for me, besides dying.*

I’ve been listening to my body for months and months now. The intention is to hear its story through physical sensations, and through that mend the broken connections between my brain and my body. The end goal is to be alive. To live my life conscious: thinking my thoughts and being aware of them in the moment, feeling my emotions and experiencing my physical sensations in real time, as they happen. I’ve always taken them all and stuffed them away in a box, to take them out and look upon them from a distance, disenchanted and uninvolved, completely divorced from any kinship, any simpatico.

It has been through thinking my thoughts and listening to the people that live in my brain that i’ve been able to begin to take my place as the head of my system and gather them all closer to me. To function as a more cohesive unit and bring some calm, quiet, and success to my day-to-day life.
It is now through experiencing my physical sensations that i hope to rejoin my body to my brain, and finally become a real, living girl!**

My body has been communicating some awful things to me. I’m reliving my abuse in a physical way. The things i became a multiple to escape, i’ve now invited back in to tell their stories. My jaw aches, my girl parts hurt, my legs twitch with the need to run, and so much more. But there’s yet more than i’ve felt and here it is now, and i see/feel so clearly. It’s sharp, this knowledge i have suddenly, my hands gripping the phone so tight it’s a wonder i didn’t push a wrong button and lose her. It makes my heart twinge in sympathy for myself –that poor child i was– all alone and in unbearable pain mentally, emotionally, physically.
My body wanted to die.

I don’t want to die today! I know and trust in the love and support of my husband and my sons. I believe them when they look deeply into me and tell me they understand, they love me and it’s all right. Shh, it’s okay. You’re doing great, you’ve come so far, you’re so much better.
This is my body telling me its story.
And suddenly i am free of it. I’m lighter, but not the floatiness of dissociation. It’s a burden that i’m laying down. I’ve unwound another ream of the bandages that have mummified me. I am being reborn, coming alive. Breathing out death and breathing in life, LIFE!

I tell Ms T of the revelation inside that her words have brought me. We share the wonder and beauty of the moment and then it’s time to end the call for another 2wks. Before she hangs up (i’m old, we used to hang up our phones, okay?) she tells me how proud she is of how hard i’ve worked and all i’ve accomplished. She reminds me that not a lot of people who’ve been through things like i’ve been through ever make it this far.
Without excuse or qualification i tell her Thank you.

And then she says, “For this next 2wks i’d like you to celebrate, really celebrate, what you’ve been able to do and how awesome you are.”

I barely rolled my eyes.

May Love and Peace Be Yours In Some Measure Today,
~H~

*Sorry for the brutality of that statement, but it is a true one.

**I use the word “girl” without any cutesiness – i am not being coy. I may be in my 50s and technically a woman, but on the inside i’m a girl who is only now on the cusp of adulthood. It’s an accurate description, to my mind.

Today In Self-Discovery…

When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.
~ Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Yesterday’s phone therapy went well. We talk every 2wks, so i caught her up on the week long bender, followed by this last week of doing fairly well and continuing the work. She told me i only lasted about half an hour our last appointment, and most of that was silence. When i told her i was sorry about that, she said, “Sometimes a person just needs to know that someone is there, ready to catch and to comfort.”
I’m so glad i kept looking for the right person to work with.
I’d never have gotten this far without her (or someone a helluva lot like her).

Marking my progress feels good and is important, but it’s not eliminating my current issues. My anxiety is still high, and i’m wrestling with anger, too. It can be hard for me when people do things i wouldn’t do, or think things i don’t think. I find it threatening. It’s hard to overcome. I aligned myself with my abusers in order to stay relatively sane. I believed what they believed and tried to think like they thought. This practise, as with so many others that i’d affected to survive, followed me into my adulthood, long after the abuse had passed. And it plagues me even after eliminating the subsequent danger of extended family associations.

Learning to be myself started with learning to think for myself. My husband was the first person who ever gave me the freedom to figure things out on my own. And when he thought differently he wouldn’t argue – totally foreign to me. He didn’t tell me i was wrong, he didn’t even raise his voice or look at me like i was stupid. No arrogance or sarcasm! I’d never been treated with such respect. I stopped shouting and doubling down. There was no point because he never bought in. He was simply not invested in group think. Group think was my primary way of operating. I’d adopted it first to avoid abuse and try and find safety, and later because i was trying so hard to find a place where i belonged.

I had no idea how to suss what i thought about stuff. How was i supposed to know when i didn’t even know myself? I started by listening to a lot of philosophical points of view, which is bloody exhausting. There were times it felt like they were breaking my brain. But from that i learned a very effective way to seek truth and understanding is skeptical thinking. I still have a lot to learn about how to apply it properly, but issokay, i’m learning about who i am, what i think, and how to think, all at the same time. I usually try to avoid tall orders, but i’ve found these things are intertwined. Because they are, i can work on one thing, and the other 2 just sort of hitch a ride.

I’m peeling back layers, i’m carving the marble, i’m poring over all the books. I’m writing a one-woman show, starring me. These things are all lovely and poetic, full of romance and promise and joy. The scary thing for me is that i’m defining myself away from people. As i discover who i am, so too do i realise who i’m not. I’m not you. Or you or you or you or anyone else. And that might seem like a big DUH! to anyone reading this, but it is a very big and very scary thing to me. I allied myself with the group i was in as a way of hiding. People who’ve known me might be shocked at that, because my personality has been, ah, rather animated and loud and bold. But it wasn’t truly me – well, not ALL me. Some of it was a completely unconscious affectation based on years of behaviour that arose out of a need to fit in, in order to stay safe and survive. My mother expected me to be gregarious and entertaining, and it stuck. I do like it, and it is a genuine part of me, but the abuse and the way my brain works, plus mental illness has conspired together to amp it up and mutate it, somehow. It was like i caricaturised myself in the effort to be what i thought i should be. I kept turning up the volume on my presentation, because it never quite worked. I got abused and hurt and shunned by my peers, regardless. My spastic intensity was a frantic response to pain and rejection. I wanted, i craved, i NEEDED connection badly.
Man, i tried so fucking hard.

Now though, i don’t try so hard. As i live out my life in a safe and respectful relationship, i’m able to take off the various masks and costumes i’ve used over the years. The deep desire i have to know and be myself, has overcome the fear of being rejected and hurt and misunderstood. I also have the gift of knowing i’m an introvert at heart. I know that i’m not hiding out here on our farm – i spend a lot of time alone and don’t have many friends or socialise much because i like it this way. I love humans very much, and i want to make the world a better place for us all. I write this blog in part, with that purpose in mind. The internet has been a lifesaver for me in many ways, and now it can help me help others. I couldn’t do this if it were one-on-ones and face-to-faces and speeches and talks and such. It’d eat me up in no time, and i’d crash and burn. Today, i know myself well enough to know that. I also think that perhaps someday, as i continue along this path, learning to know and love myself, i might take my show on the road. To put a face and a voice to these oddly presented blurbs and terrible poetry.
Honestly, a 1-woman show isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Maybe one day.

I could travel and do little performances or give little talks. They’ll be weird and perhaps land only infrequently, but for people like me they’d be reveletory – bringing relief and hope and freedom. I could connect with people and come away from it more, not less. Edified, not diminished. Invigorated, not spent.
Maybe one day.

Today i putter about in my Little Crooked House, extremely anxious and incredibly frustrated by the actions of many people around me. But there is a ribbon of peace running through me now; i’ve created this life around myself where i have the time and the safety to do this work. I’ve been able to process unthinkable trauma, to embrace myself as a worthy human, to shuck off the lies of my abusers, to set boundaries between myself and those who’d yet harm me, to show those i’ve harmed that i’m truly sorry by toiling every day to be better – even if it’s just a smidge, to love whom i will without fear, and allow them to love me back in return, to ask for and accept help, to say NO, to take my mask off and step forward as myself… And so much more than this.

I’m moving away from feeling threatened by those who think and act differently than i do. I’m repulsed by group think instead of being drawn to it. I don’t need the world to agree with me or approve of me.
My therapist squeed and clapped as we spoke of these things. She said, “You’re falling in love with yourself! I have goosebumps!”
I didn’t cringe.
Amazing.
I didn’t even roll my eyes.
Unbelievable.

We’ll see how that statement of hers sits inside me.
I’ll keep y’all apprised.
Scintillating stuff, innit?
Heh.

Love and Peace To All,
~H~

Pictured: Bronze sculpture by Rodin.

Me, Myself, and the Mirror

I was more shocked than anyone when it began to seem as if i might be an introvert.

I was born to be in service to my mother. I have no way to know just how intentional my birth was. My educated guess is that my conception was accidental, but her decision to keep me was made consciously, and with purpose. It was her second pregnancy with no husband, and in the 60s, in her tiny and uber religious community, that was a huge deal. The first time she was sent to the US to have and surrender the child for adoption, which she did, and so even though she no longer lived with her parents, for whatever reason she went again. At their behest? Mm, doubtful. More like it was her best option, because she had nothing, and they were of some means and would pay for it. I think Grandpa had sold the ranch by then, and he and Grandma had moved to the big city. All their family and most of their friends still resided in little towns dotted around the south of the province, where 1 faith rules most, and even though my grandparents eschewed the Latter Day Saints for the United Church, everyone else they knew were adherents. I imagine the home for wayward young ladies accepted her without a blink, and besides, a non-believer is merely an opportunity for conversion, is it not?

I heard a number of stories around the adventures she had, and the events leading up to her leaving the States and me being born in another province, but i’ve been unable to find much supporting information. Yes, the home existed then (and still today). They wouldn’t confirm she’d stayed there, which is only as it should be, i was merely doing my due diligence to inquire. I have a birth certificate that confirms when and where i was born, and was able to speak to the hospital archivist, but they don’t keep records of any of the details of my birth beyond height and weight, and that it was uneventful. I don’t know if she knew the man i called “Daddy” before she conceived, but i suppose it doesn’t matter; somewhere along the way she decided that it served her to serve me up to him for his purposes. Before, during, and after her association with him, she was my 1 true god, anyway. I always knew it, and she knew that i did too, although she still reinforced it regularly.

I was adept at dissociation, and abuse was ubiquitous. It was nothing for her to pick me up from a “visit” and immediately place me in a social situation. I’m not entirely certain if i knew what had happened prior or not, but being as well acquainted with my system as i am now, i strongly suspect not. I might have been molested an hour or 2 before, but there i’d be, shining as brightly as my mother wished, for whatever audience she’d placed me in front of.*

I was always somewhat conscious of how important it was that i behave in a friendly and outgoing fashion; i must leave a favourable impression wherever i went. To do anything else my mother would see as reflecting poorly on her. Not only did she feed on the admiration of others (psychically and monetarily), it helped blind them to what was festering inside her, underneath the facade. To that end, i was her centerpiece of subterfuge. I was bubbly, animated, sweet, and yes, precocious. I spent most of my time with adults, a lot of whom were highly educated. My grandmother was a school teacher who had me reading fluently by 4yrs old. How could i not be?

By the time she and “Daddy” parted ways, my personality was set. At least, it seemed to be and that’s what i’d’ve said had you asked me. My belief now is that what i displayed was more psychological affect than personality. Some of it was me, but some of it was the mask that had been given me to wear. After a time, i forgot to take it off. No, it’s more accurate to say that i’d worn it so long i didn’t know it was a mask. I looked in the mirror and assumed what i saw was me.
It’s taken years to pry that sucker off, so i could get a gander at what lies underneath.

I first noticed something a few months back. A loved one commented, as they all seem to eventually, on my lack of desire for vengeance, or even justice, against those that harmed me. I’ve never wished death, torture, pain of any kind, on any abuser. I wanted to hit my mother one time, when i was prepubescent – and that’s the extent of it. My son brought it up the last time, and when he expressed his lack of understanding, i shrugged and said, That’s just me. That’s who i am.

I’ve been puzzling over that ever since.

I’ve been an automaton wearing a mask for most of my life, long after the danger had passed, and well into being a mother and a wife and someone’s best friend. I’ve been that way for so long that, as i’ve stated – i thought how i was, WAS me.
Then the safety of a loving relationship came and gently held my head up, as therapy held the mirror, and i saw myself. I saw my costuming. And i wanted to take it all off.
When i responded to my son that day, i got a looksee.
There was a heretofore absent surety in what i said to him.
See, i’m always questioning myself: what i think, how i feel, what i say, how i act… ALL OF IT, ALL THE TIME.
When i said, That’s just me; that’s who i am, there was no question. No obsession, no angst, no elipses. There was a period at the end. I knew what i knew.

I’ve been chewing on that, and i can see it in my recent postings. I know the sun is rising on me as a functioning human being. I know i’ve shucked my funeral clothes. I know i’m naked and new. I step from the shower and stand before the mirror, and the foggy coating covering it is fading. I’m trepidatious, but my ache to see myself is greater. My hunger to know myself is stronger. Blurred lines are sharpening, colours are intensifying, and i’m coming into view. I’m tremulous, but my feet are planted shoulder-width and i am set. To see. To know.

I’ve been joking for a few years about being a hermit. When i moved out of the big city in 2007, i remembered the comfort and peace that i’d felt as a farm girl. My home life was hell then, and school was a misery. The only safety i could find was in the endless chores and quiet beauty of farm life and livestock. The wind and the smell of grain and cow poop made me feel happy and calm.  So when mania threatened to break me, i retreated to my Little Crooked House on my quiet farm at the end of a No Exit road. I realised that i shifted into automatic around people, and if i really wanted to deal with my shit, i had to remove the stimuli that triggered the reflex.
I’ve done my best work here, alone.

After that i noticed that whenever i’d go into town for socialising or to run errands, it wasn’t long before i wanted to go home. And then i began marking how quickly my energy drained when i was out and about, and how i could feel my depleted stores filling back up as soon as we turned onto our road to come home.
The entire time though, i was wondering if i was hiding. I thought maybe i might be kidding myself, that i was retreating to avoid, to ignore. I worried my behaviour was unhealthy.

Over the years i’ve tried to be a part of many different groups. I kept looking for a place where i belonged. I’d ken the group dynamic, their values and aesthetics Then i’d shrug on a new coat, and walk amongst them for a while. See if i fit the group; if the jacket fit. It never did, or at least not for very long. My chameleon colours never lasted. I’d be identified for the imposter i was and be cast out, or i’d feel claustrophobic and need to GTFO ASAP.

While standing in front of that psychic mirror recently, i saw that i was wearing a spiked leather jacket. It’s a i’m-tough-stay-away-from-me thing. I thought it was an introvert costume. I looked into the mirror, who is me of course, and i saw that i don’t need it. I’m an introvert.
That’s just me. That’s who i am.
This is not so much a process of figuring out or learning who i am.
I’ve created a safe space, and now the bits of myself that i hid away so that i might survive what i could not have otherwise, are coming out to claim their place.
They know exactly what spot at the table is theirs.
I sit at the head and wait.
The banquet will be lavish.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*I refuse to mangle the flow of a sentence to avoid ending one in a preposition. If this offends your delicate grammarly sensibilities, i do apologise. Be advised that i regularly, and in a multitude of ways, play with and pervert this language, that i think is a bit of a mutt to begin with. Heh. See what i did there?

No Knot of No Note

I learned years ago, that if i wanted to avoid depression (or deeper depression), to absolutely not, under any circumstances, read old journals.
What happened –every dang time– was i’d be confronted with the same problems, the same situations repeating, the same emotions shared in the same words, the same pain bleeding all over the page, and the same whywhyWHYs… No answers, no resolution, no apparent movement forward. No progress, and so, no relief. It would fill me with a panicky sort of hopelessness – like a bird beating its wings against its cage. I was trapped and unable to break free. It solidified my belief that i was a failure, and invariably cranked the volume way up on all those ohsowelcome (/s) voices that sit in judgment inside my skull.

Some parts of my system are only conscious when they’re in the face (meaning, the one currently presenting, and in control of my body). I can feel them inside if i focus, but i don’t hear any commentary or thoughts that i’d identify as coming from them. Other parts, although many are capable of facetime, never do so. They seem to need/prefer to keep to the safety of my space-soup of thoughts. And some are so poorly developed that they lack any awareness or will to do anything other than the tiny, specific thing that they do, e.g. the one that just screams. When i first began actively dealing with the people that live in my brain, there were only a few parts that could be both in the face, and maintain their own sort of consciousness when they weren’t.

As i’ve grown in knowledge and competency (as the one in charge {hopefully}), that is changing. I see and experience, that as i heal, my Bits N’ Pieces are also; we are all morphing into something else. There are new voices (they aren’t new themselves, they merely didn’t participate in the chatter before), some voices have different tones, and the odd collection of folks and freaks feels different. And now, there are some voices i used to hear that i don’t hear at all anymore. It was the terror i felt at that which brought me back to therapy, after a hiatus of some years.
I didn’t know it was a hiatus, but my therapist sure did. Well, she hoped so, i suppose, but one of the things that makes her the best, is that she’s never tried to tell me how my life should look. I thought i was done – as fixed as i was gonna get. These last 2yrs have taught me that there’s so much more i want and am capable of achieving.

So yeah, i had a peekaboo at my old journal.

YIKES.

I debated including a sample, because it makes me cringe hard enough to crack a rib or two, but in for a penny, as they say…
Aaaand nope.
I noped it.
I slept on it, and in the morning it was clear to me that that would be self-destructive.
Also, i’ve seen enough, too. It’s locked down and shall remain so for the foreseeable future. There’s doing a forensic examination, and then there’s returning to sniff my own leavings.
Ew. No thank you.

While it was hard to read, the results have been very positive.
Not, Phew, i made it through that and didn’t die!
For the very first time, i looked back at old writings and saw with bold clarity, that i am absolutely, unequivocally, a healthier and happier person.

I’m no longer twisted up in various enraged and hyper-alarmed knots. I still feel that way sometimes, but i’ve untied the big ones, and have found mobility, and even some flexibility of movement. I no longer eke out a meager existence as a knot of no note. (Ooh, i think i’ve found my title!) I’ve only got a couple more of those tiny, tight suckers that require long and patient picking, before a bow is within my reach.
A BOW, for Maude’s sake!
I’m THIS close to being tied up in a bow!
Have i ever felt this upbeat on a Monday morning? Hell no. And i’m not even gassed up on espresso, merely an egg sammy and a cuppa tea.

I in no way regret my old journal entries, cringe-worthy though they may be. I started it innocuously, meaning all my friends were doing it. We were doing fun questionnaires and making random, silly observations about life, the universe and, you know… everythink. This is the music i’m listening to and this is my current mood and OMG, the last season of Angel is KILLING MEEEE!!
I had friends on the blogsite that used it for other, deeper things, though. Very thinky thoughts, tough feelings, and inner struggles. Since i was in and out of The Bin, struggling with mania, and looking for someone/anyone that could help me, i quickly fell in with them.

Except i took it to a whole. nutha. level.
As tends to be my way, especially while manic. Heh.

My blog became my therapist. And when i finally (and the angels sang Hallelujah!), finally found someone i could work with, my online journal became my dumping ground. My proving ground, too. I was dealing with the reality of being multiple for the first time, and working with someone who specialised in my unique brand of crazy. She came to my home, and to the hospital when necessary, and helped me look at my brain. She taught me to listen to what it was trying to tell me. I figured out that i needed to talk about what’d happened to me growing up. So i told my husband my story, and then Ms T would sit on my loveseat 10ft away from me (that was as close as she could get for a couple of years), and help me deal with the fallout. And i spilled a great deal of it with my small, tight circle of friends on the journalling platform i used.

It’s all so fucking frantic. I’m alternately furious and terrified – back then there was no angry and scared. Back then i was the embodiment of Histrionica. Emotions running amok. Memories, dreams, and are they memories or dreams, all vomited out onto the page/screen. Delivered with hot teenage angst, too. Like hiding-in-my-room-writing-bad-poetry angst.
I still write bad poetry. Heh.

The overarching and undergirding emotion that i see now though, is hurt. I didn’t write much about it, because the big 1-2 punch of the others took all my time and energy.
And i wasn’t ready or prepared to feel that much pain.
I’m glad and grateful that i didn’t, because i know, as much as one can know anything that didn’t happen, that it would likely have ended me. I’ve been preparing myself for it, sort of unbeknownst to myself, for nearly 15yrs now, and i’m barely keeping my head above water.

The pain has been like being gutted with a knife made of ice. My insides splash out of me, hot and bitterly pungent, my pain bursting from its integuments. I gather it all into my arms, and carefully place it all back in, stitching myself back together with knowledge and love… Only to gasp as the knife slices again. I’ve barely time to breathe between, and this has been my life for a year or more (it’s hard to track when i’m in the thick of it).

As i’m writing this, i’ve suddenly seen that i’ve returned a bit to that fear-stricken girl. I am being quite dramatic. Interesting. Not surprising and certainly understandable, but interesting. I’m getting both mercy and grace for me then – and now. This has been intense work, and its job is to connect me to all the parts of myself that have broken or split off over the years, while trying to survive the unsurvivable. I guess it’s working.
Yay?
I see my then-self as a daughter, of some stripe. She tried very hard. She did the work and pushed through with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. There was vitriol, but it was her due. She never got to be a child, or teenager – not really.
So what if my teenage years were in my late 30s to mid-40s?

If you ask me about the child part, i’ll tell you the truth of it:
In some ways, i’ve only now begun to NOT be a child.
I read those old posts, and armed with new knowledge about a human’s need for connection, and what happens to a child when that need isn’t met; i see a starving child in those words i typed over a decade ago.
I read those old posts, and buoyed by new experiences as a connected human, and how it feels to no longer be alone; i reach out to my then-self and gather her close to me.

I think she is mostly part of me now, and i’ll hold her tight until i’m done breathing.
And i’m not just Histrionica anymore.
I am HistrionicaButterfly.

Be as well and stay as safe as you can.
Love and Peace,
~H~

What Is and Is Not Mine

NOTE: This is a low piece. It contains some reference to suicidal ideations. I’m not in a good place and this is darkly reflective of that. Consider that before proceeding. If you don’t have tools and support for how to handle tough feelings, i would recommend skipping this one.

**********

Hold me down, I’m so tired now
Aim your arrow at the sky
Take me down, I’m too tired now
Leave me where I lie
~ Florence and the Machine, Sky Full of Song

I am not okay. The stress of my therapy is high, the stress of my marriage is medium, the stress of the virus is intense, the stress of politics is insane, and the stress of my children is over 9000.

I’m so turned around i’m not sure if i’m dealing with a depression or a mania. I think i’m coming out of a depression, and a mania is peeking at me from around the corner, but i’m hesitant to rely on my insight into anything recently. As i look back over my last couple of months of entries, there are moments of clarity that may produce self-esteem, while others threaten to drown me in despair.

And yes, i’m dealing with some feelings that border on suicidal. There’s no plan, but there has been some ideation. In the past, both the ideations and the attempts, were more about wanting the feelings i was having to stop, but not being able to do it myself. They were about my actions screaming that i needed serious help, when i didn’t have the words to ask, couldn’t say them, or had no one/didn’t know who to say them to.
Now i have a therapist (the lovely Ms T), and good support by way of my husband, my closest girlfriend, and an online community of people that i trust and with whom i have a long history of being genuine and honest.

The feelings are stemming from the therapy, i think. There’s a lot of looking back involved – that’s just the way it is.
But also, the state of the world is not exactly helping.

I know i regularly write about feeling as if i’m about to break into a million pieces. It too, is the nature of therapy, i think. It results from the looking back. And maybe from the looking forward… God yes – the trying to envision a future where i am not this broken and bleeding thing. This creature that skirts the light, blinking blindly up from the edge where i’m trying so hard not to seep back into the shadows.
But the darkness pulls at me, picking at my clothes like hungry birds.
And the blackness sucks at my feet, winds up my legs, making me slow, like running from the Evermore in an endless nightmare. So heavy – my body will not obey me.
I’m truly becoming afraid that i have nothing left.

It’s not as easy as grieving the terrible traumas endured by the wee and lovely lass that i once was… I wish – i would feel close to glory were that the case.
No, it is the wreckage that i’ve wrought that brings me to this lonely and desolate place.
Laying down the burdens of my progenitors that were never mine to carry has taken most of my life. I was ready to launch into the future – blazing past the atmosphere into the vast Beyond. Neon rainbow unicorn fire-goddess me.
But stop. Here now, what is that impeding my acceleration into the starry soup of fabulous possibilities?
These things at my feet wrapped in butcher’s paper, tied in twine and looking like tonight’s supper?
These are not pieces of me.
These are the bits and chunks that i’ve hacked off of others. Ready for me to drag them back to my hidey-hole. To slowly spit and then to consume its rancid, blackened meat.

If you’ve read enough of my posts, you surely recognise that i get all metaphorical when i’m dealing with the most unpalatable parts of my existence.
The damage i’ve done to others is the thing i must now choke down.
Finally being light enough to take off my death dress and dance into the New Days, naked and scrubbed pink and shiny… I can’t.
Now, that was a tricksy thing you did there, Life/Universe/Me.
Launch cancelled.

Metaphors over. What’s happening is i can now see beyond my own pain and suffering, and that means seeing that which i’ve caused others. And as seems to be the horrid and inexorable way of things – it is to those whom i hold dearest i’ve dealt the most.
I hope i can carry these burdens into the New Days, but i don’t know. It’s ugly and bitter and it’s me and what i’ve done. Just as i was born into a life i didn’t ask for, so were my children. Just as my mother did damage to everyone around her, i find the same can be said of me.
And it hurts to breathe right now.

Oh look at me
At all I’ve done
I’ve lost so many things that I so dearly love
I lost my soul
I lost my pride
Oh I lost any hope of having a sweet life
So I cry,
Cry, cry
~ Jann Arden, Hangin’ By a Thread

Fly*

take me through it
and tell them
you held my hand
the trees sough
and the ground
breathes musky life
i put it on my tongue
because i want to know
and little worms
slide in like sugar
i slip, sigh, slide
through electric wet memories
generational mommas telling me
shh, child
shh, don’t touch
my path is through old trees
and i taste their fruit regardless of my fear
i might be poisoned
they smell so sweet
and i have been so empty
and hungry
spent with need
don’t take my shoes from me
i have places to go
let go of my hand
you are a weight
i’ll not carry
the sky is calling me
it billows
and roils
and beckons me up
up, up
on the wings of the poor
the world is a millstone
warm hay
and honeysuckle
it smells so sweet
i could die

*Mine, from 2012

A Love Song

I remember when we were first dating
No touch yet,
But eddies were drawing us together
Churning between our bodies
Sweet and warm,
A gentle pulling under our feet
Ooooh

We stopped on the sidewalk
You looked at me,
I don’t remember which one of us was talking
Other bodies around us in the sunshine
The smell of green,
Life was suddenly so bright and pretty
Ooooh

Your face spread into a smile
Your pupils opening,
You were a ray of the sun burning my skin
Searing, blistering, burning, setting me on fire
I am ashes,
Rare wind from the south blows me into your pocket
Ooooh

Fragile and Fierce

Fell down a hole again, and LO! there was a bottle at the bottom. I slipped into it for about a week. I’m embarrassed and depressed about it, like always, but the detoxing is mostly over, and now it’s time for the picking up and the dusting off and the starting all over again. Well, i’m not starting all over again, but i’m sucker for musicals.
Come at me.

I felt like one of those super fancy champagne glasses from the 40s and 50s. Not the flutes, but the widemouth ones – oh so delicate and fragile. I felt like a piano wire, stretched until it’s about to sproing. My brain was filled to capacity, my thoughts racing and obsessive. The simmer had come to a full rolling boil, and i knew that i was on the brink of overflowing the pot.
So yeah, i guess i swandived purposely down that hole.
Don’t come at me.

The positives:
– it didn’t last long;
– there was switching behaviour, but i wasn’t angry or destructive;
– my son who is off work took care of the house, so no shambles;
– i didn’t push my husband to his limits.

The negatives:
– i drank a LOT;
– the detoxing was the most brutal i’ve endured, i probably should have been hospitalised;
– unless i’m bleeding out my eyeballs, there isn’t a mosquito’s chance on a frog’s tongue i’m going there;
– i added to an already stressful situation for my loved ones.

These are just true things. The trick is to look at it all, acknowledge it, feel the feels, and then get on with it. Get back to the work.
I’ve said this many times before, but i might always restate it because i think it’s so important…
My track record, along with the way my brain works, has shown me in a neon-freaking-sign way that i cannot rush things. They’re like the lights in Vegas at night.
OMFGJFCH, SLOW DOWN!!
(I used an all-caps acronym, because that’s the kind of swearing that makes church ladies faint, and truckers and sailors say, Hey, tone it down a little, will ya?!)

This is all i’ve got in me today, but i’ve got the itch to write.
And i assure you that it will NOT be poetry.

Love to All and May Some Peace Be Yours Today,
~H~