And isn’t it amazing?
Life can be amazing
I feel my heartbeat racing
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,