Dream Shifts

This post might only be for me, but i’m sharing it just in case. I’ll put it in a new category, labelled Dream Journal. It’s weird, but what’s new?

So, i guess i’m dream-journalling again:

Been struggling with insomnia, and when i can sleep, it’s either for 8, 10, 12hrs, which is uncharacteristic, or frustrated tossing about and cursing, punctuated by brief, unsatisfying dozes.

And always whatever sleep is filled with dreaming, and the days, with headaches. The headaches can be mild, like an ache in the base of my skull that spreads cloudy pain in a band around my forehead. An asteroid belt orbiting my brain. There are worse ones though, and they’ve been more frequent. The band tightens and makes my brain feel like it’s swelling inside my skull, there are screws of intensity at my temples. These days those are near-constant. I can feel my eyeballs, 2 hot stones that bounce around and make my sockets radiate ache.
Plus, my dreams are escalating.

After weeks of struggle, i’m thinking my dreams are telling me they have something to tell me. Maybe they’re trying to get my attention. Weird, not-my-usual sort of dreams have been happening. I’m remembering a lot more of them too, when for years, outside of maybe a dozen or so a year, they were like trying to grab wisps of smoke upon waking.

I spoke of my dreams just a few posts ago, in “Mindful Dreaming”, so this journal will only include mention of dreams a fragments of, that i’ve had since.

Dream #1:

– Husband and i are at the neighbours to pick up something i left the last time i was there. They are wealthy, hospitable people, and invite us to stay for a cool drink by their pool. Hubby obliges with the man of the house, poolside, and i proceed to the kitchen with the lady. She’s kind, petite, elegant, the epitome of gentility and graciousness. We speak as those who don’t know each other well, but like each other much. We bring a plate of snacks out to the men, whose number has grown to 3. I sit beside the one that’s mine, who’s got a 6-pack of beer at his feet, and is tucking into his second. Odd, because he rarely drinks, and when he does, it’s only a couple, enjoyed slowly.

I’m looking around at all the lovely things they have, so tastefully decorated and well-maintained. Then i’m talking to a few other women and we are no longer by the pool, we are in a gorgeous living room. It’s sunken, with deep pile white carpeting. There are banisters providing a broken border on 3 sides. One side provides entrance to a luxe dining area. There are tables laden with an incredible array of desserts, including what look like driftwood logs that have split open long ago and spilled their contents. But the logs are made of chocolate, and what spills out are dozens and dozens of the most delectable looking chocolates – a veritable chocolaterie. And there are exquisite tea cakes of every imagining, served on tired plates made of fine china and gold. I make a note to GTF over there and get me some as soon as this person stops chattering at me.

One side of the room steps up and opens to a door leading to a hallway, which i know leads to other apartments like this one, although none of the rest have a pool, and this couple has the best apartment of all. (We don’t live there, we live in our own, much more humble home next door.) The door suddenly opens, and this guy comes in, looking like he just walked in from a retirement community in Florida. He’s very animated and blustery, and he emotes to the whole room about how he’s confessing that he’s the one who stole from Mister’s humidor. Further, he states that he’s not sorry, and proceeds to steal another box of cigars and runs back out, giggling gleefully. Mister laughs and says to the group of us, which has become more like a crowd, that he isn’t going to bother himself with that.
At which point, conversations and indulgences resume.

I then hear a voice coming from my right, and i cringe immediately because i know who it is. My mother is sitting in a chair above the sunken area, at one of the openings. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but i know it was bemoaning her life. I see she’s settling in to a speech: she sighs dramatically and stretches back. Her legs open, exposing her panties, and her gathered top comes undone, but she only pays it the barest attention. As she’s sighing deeply and fixing her soulful eyes on us, she makes a half-assed attempt to hold it up with her hand, but it falls open on one side, exposing her breast.
I said something like, This didn’t last long, and get up and head over to “handle” her. I’m burning with embarrassment.

Suddenly Missus gets my attention and hands me a beautiful piece of clothing. Taking it from her and turning it about in my hands i see it’s old fashioned type knickers, but the kind we wore in the 80s, that have a frilly sleeveless top attached. These aren’t ridiculous though, they’re perfectly stitched, frothy perfection. She tells me they’re a bit big for her and she thought that i might like them. I chuckle at her and say, A bit? and Thank you! Then she hands me a piece my own lingerie that i recognise immediately. I wondered aloud how the heck she found them, but that got lost as she handed me more lingerie, all in a rosegold satin pouch. I thought it contained one thing, but it was a complete matching outfit. Tasteful, well made, and obviously expensive. Then i saw there was another one, and another. Every time i finished looking at one, there would be another underneath it. They were all as exquisite and detailed as everything else, and i still remember many, incredibly minute details, which is odd for a dream, i think. I mark as of this writing, that while every outfit i saw was of a different colour: white, cream, gold and black, only one mostly white set, had any red, and that was merely a few stripes along with some black ones. There was nothing aggressively sexual – it was more like the wedding trousseau of a lady of some means.
I also mark that everything was a very average size, and i wasn’t worried about any of it fitting me, which has been the case for most of my life – whether asleep or awake.

I’m holding them up for the assemblage, and a beautiful woman who’s standing over a sofa filled with other ladies and talking animatedly with them, oohs and ahs, and comes for a closer look. It’s Reese Witherspoon, and she’s a dear friend of the lady of the house, and a minor one of mine.

I wake up.

Comments, Thoughts, Meanderings, Ponderings*:

– There is a quality in many of my dreams that particularly stands out in this one. I often have a tonne of backstory with both the people in interact with, and the places i go. I don’t know if it’s like that with other people, as i’ve never asked. In fact, i don’t think i’ve told anyone this before. There are long histories that are very clear and intricate, and well-known to me while dreaming, that mostly fade upon waking. Lately though, i’m starting to remember them, as i have here, although not quite as intense.

For instance, there are 2 trailer parks i’ve visited repeatedly: 1 is my own childhood home, but the other is an old, rundown, and vaguely sinister one with only a few, set far apart, with large, equally unkempt bits of land, where once were kept chickens, maybe rabbits, definitely sad, old dogs on chains in the hot sun. I’ve been there countless times, but never in my waking life.
Thankfully.
I don’t care to visit my childhood one at all, either.
Brains, huh?

– I think it’s obvious all the clothing is significant.

For one, the fact that i don’t fret about my size or the size of the clothes, which are obviously NOT plus-size, speaks volumes to me. It confirms that my image of myself IS changing. The last time i lost a lot of weight, i couldn’t see it. I still had what i now refer to as “fat eyes”. It’s like how i see other friends looking at pictures of themselves from years ago and saying God, i thought i was so fat back then, but i sure wish i was that weight now. Poor self-image, coupled with eating, food, and body/sex issues, made sure i basically couldn’t see myself realistically.
Screw lousy parents, and screw mean girls and bully boys, too.
Just sayin’.

For another, i think it’s significant that everything is tasteful and demure (as far as lingerie goes, heh) and beautifully made, and very expensive. Except the panties of mine that she found. They were more bold, say? Some might say bawdy. This lovely, sweet and elegant lady that everyone liked, was giving me something of hers, and then an incredibly generous gift of so much more. As i stated some time back in my piece about my husband’s and my relationship regarding intimacy (it wasn’t a big TMI, it was more vague references and euphemisms, also heh), we have stripped ourselves back to our beginnings, to figure out what we like/want, and don’t like/want; that includes as sexual beings. I won’t get too personal here, except to say i’m experiencing myself in a way expressed by those pretty, frilly, softly coloured, luxurious items.
I think it speaks both to who i am, and what i’m worth.

– Next, what about the barging in, rude dude?

About this, i have no clear inclination. I’ll have to marinate in all the questions i have for a bit. It’s like no one was put out by his loudness, or brashness, or confession, or his continued inappropriate behaviour. Well now, writing that out certainly gave me some ideas.
That’s why i’m doing this.
Is it me, and that no one minds my mental illness, my strange ways of behaving, my quirks and oddities?
I’m also reminded now that no one reacted to my mother at all.

– Let me tell you about my mother.

Just kidding. I’ve probably shared way too much for anyone’s level of comfortability or interest about my mother, but her appearance in this dream is significant, regardless.
It’s one of her rare appearances where she’s not the size she was when she died, around 500lbs. She was more of her size when i was 6 or 7, i’d guess around 170 or 180 (for 5’8″), which is not much over, in my opinion. She was younger and still had her looks. She was a pretty woman, before what was inside her began rotting her outsides.

She was removed from the rest of us.
She was above us.
She didn’t look at me or address me directly.

I was embarrassed, yes, but it wasn’t like in my childhood. The feeling i had was more like how one might feel when a sick relative who can’t help themselves does something. Like when i’ve been in full mania, walked up to random people, and asked them to score drugs for me. I wasn’t angry, either. She usually pisses me right off in my dreams of late – and i tell her so, which has been therapeutic as heck. But no, i was more resigned to the fact that my afternoon fun was over because i had to get her out of there and take care of her.
Weird.
Weirder still, but easier for me to ken, was the interference of the lady of the house.

Does the first mean that my rage and pain are finally dulling some? I mean, they have faded over years of therapy, but this new work i’m doing has brought the feelings back. It can feel fresh and intense at times. Am i letting go of things? Is my brain doing that, or my body, or both? And if it’s both, is it because i AM mending the connection between them? Something to ponder.

And further, who is the lady of the house?
That will require some time and more writing still, methinks.

Every single night
I endure the flight
Of little wings of white-flamed
Butterflies in my brain
… every single night’s alight with my brain
~ Fiona Apple, Every Single Night


*I’ve titled that as i did, because it’s what my therapist, the wonderful Ms T, asks me at the end of every session. Seems apropos.




Love Goggles

I think i’m having an epiphany.
Are you allowed to have those when you’re down a rabbit hole and swimming around in a bottle?

I don’t know, but my inclination is No. It’s not legitimate. You are in your cups and so you cannot trust any thought or feeling you have.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
~ Inigo Montoya

This has been the hardest year of my adult life. No, really. I went back to therapy, and BAM! my beloved Ms T tells me i’m looking for homeostasis, in other words, a return to what i was meant to be under ideal circumstances. The word some might use is integration, but for me it isn’t that. That word means an end to the split off parts of me that saved my life. They made a childhood full of torture, survivable. Yes, they make me (diagnosably) crazy and frustrated and put me in embarrassing situations and make messes i have to clean up. Yes, they drive me nuts (diagnosed). But they stepped in, when i was a child, and took unspeakable, excruciatingly painful, evil things so that i didn’t have to. I owe them a debt i can never fully repay. Yes, i know they are me. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or superior here, but in all my efforts to communicate my experiences, i’ve come to believe that no one can fully understand what it’s like to be a multiple unless you are one. (And thank you, for every bit that you do get, and/or at least extend yourself in the effort.)

Homeostasis means healthy, to me. My body and my mind working at peak capacity. So, my Bits N’ Pieces will still be a part of me, but no longer able to take over the face and cause difficulties. No more lost time. No more reflexive disappearing. I will still feel them and maybe even hear them in my brain, but they will just be for me. No one else will have to encounter them, or deal with them. I am not in danger anymore. I’m in a safe, good, healthy place. I want them to know and feel that, and i want to take good care of them, like my children (they are), for the rest of my life.

It’s a lot of work, and it’s constant. The choice to be present and feel my feelings, experience my physical sensations, and think my thoughts in real time, is all the time. It never ends. I’m always exhausted. I struggle with insomnia, but when i can sleep, i can sleep for 8,10,12hrs straight. I have to commit and recommit to what i’m doing every day, all day.

And then this pandemic hits.
It engages me on every level i’m working on. I’m trying to be a better, kinder, healthier human, and it challenges me at every point.
People not thinking what i think they should think.
People not doing what i think they should do.
Trying to escape from religious and tribalistic thinking confronts me at every turn.

A couple of posts ago i talked about seeing people through love-goggles. It’s been seeping into me ever since. As i do the work in front of me, i’m learning who i am as a person. Shucking off all the protective measures that are like reflex. This isn’t just about my system, it’s about every breath i’ve ever taken. I had to fight for my life from before i could walk or speak. This stuff is ingrained. It’s my skin. My armour is my skin, my breath, my heartbeat, my blood. Every minute of every day, for almost 2yrs now, i choose to let go. To trust. To believe. To aspire for better and actively work towards it. To see myself for who i am and acknowledge it to others.

And this pandemic, now. FFS.
It has neon-signed every issue i have. It has Sisyphused all my burdens. I’m in constant crisis.

I’ve found the blessing in it. I had to. I want to live, and more than that, i want as much quality of life as i can get. Yes, i dare it. I want more, and more, and better. And this is what i’ve learned from doing the work. There is more, and better, and i can have it.
But it requires great effort and intention.

So, the pandemic. Yes, it highlighted all my issues and exacerbated the stress i was already under. And i backslid into old ways of thinking and acting. I was angry –enraged, even– at everyone who wasn’t doing what i thought they should do. I lashed out, with provable justification, at everyone who wasn’t behaving correctly. And every time i did, i felt like a bag of shit. Then i’d chide myself, because i was clearly in the right, so i was doing/saying what people needed. I was being brave.
But i kept feeling awful about it. So awful.

But i’d written this piece about love-goggling, and i kept thinking about it. I kept thinking about my son who believes things that i know are dangerous and provably wrong. I kept thinking about my friends who are taking terrible risks that i would not take. I kept thinking about how, when my mental illness overtook me, how those friends were the ones that were there for me, in the flesh, to help me when i could not help myself.

I asked myself: Is my rage helping me, or anyone else?
Is the fact that i can prove my rage is justified making me feel any better?
Does my tsk-tsking and finger-shaking make me feel good?
The answers were No. No, and Only for a very short time.
And that is when my mind and heart turned to love-goggling.
How am i going to be in a good relationship with my son when he believes things that actively put his family and others in danger? Love goggles.
How am i going to live in a community that largely believes in and supports political viewpoints that i find abhorrent? Love goggles.
How am i going to engage with an online audience that seems consistently arrogant, cruel, judgmental, and tribalistic? Love goggles.

I may be a Pollyanna. I may be a Milquetoast.
Maybe.
But today i can live in my own skin and i can give a shit about everybody.
Every. single. body.
And that feels good and right to me.

Ode to My Sinful Nature

Thank you Envy,
for getting my ass up off the couch
for wanting what others had
for wanting more and better

Thank you Gluttony,
for giving me what was denied me so long
for filling me up to the brim
for the luxury of more than enough

Thank you Greed,
for helping me get more than i was told i was worth
for insisting on what i deserved
for pursuing superior quality

Thank you Lust,
for keeping my sex alive
for invigorating me with desire
for setting my loins on fire

Thank you Vanity,
for showing me i’m pretty
for getting me in the shower
for taking me shopping

Thank you Sloth,
for providing me with much needed rest
for making my limbs so heavy
for the call of quiet nothingness

Thank you Wrath,
for gifting me the words No and Stop
for filling me with fury
for showing me it wasn’t love

~ Mine
July 17, 2020

IMAGE: The Seven Deadly Sins, Hieronymus Bosch (1500 – ’25)

Laying Down My Gavel

I’d like to think i’m a slightly optimistic realist. These days i’ve felt my optimism slipping. I don’t want to become bitter or jaded or misanthropic, although i do slip into that character now and again. I often find solace in dark humour, sometimes even a renewal of my brighter side. I’m not sure exactly how it works, i just know that it does. However, i’m working on being more mindful and present in my day-to-day moments. I’m learning to stick around and pay attention to what i’m thinking, experience my emotions, and feel my physical sensations, all at the same time, in real time. No fleeing, no freezing, no fighting.
So i’m trying to sit with my increasing disappointment with current human behaviour.
It’s not easy, and not fun.

What i’ve been attempting to do is view the goings on around me through love goggles – like it was someone i love behaving that way. It instantaneously made it less hard, that’s for sure. There are people i love who steadfastly hang onto beliefs that are provably untrue. There are people i love who hold philosophical viewpoints far from my own. And there are people i love that are, honestly, kinda shitty people. There’s not much i see out there, that someone i know and care about isn’t at least capable of. Maybe that means my taste in friends sucks. Perhaps, but love is love, man. Some people in my life i just love, like my kids. For me it was instantaneous; as soon as i held them in my arms i loved them utterly, and regardless of who they are or what they do, that will never change. Some i grow to love, like my husband. We were friends first, which built slowly until one day –BAM– lust hit me like a freight train. And then as best friends who were having sex, i came to the realisation that i loved him, more deeply, more intimately than anyone, in a way that i’d never loved anyone before.

And then there are those that i choose to love. These are ones who seem to me to clearly need someone to love them, and if i want to, and feel like i can, i do. This kind of love is more of a verb than the others, which sort of just ARE. That might sound odd or arrogant, but let me explain myself a little. I also choose to love humanity. That might come naturally to some, but not me. If i hadn’t been raised the way i was, and hurt the way i was, it may have been different. But i was taught that we (my mother, stepfather, sibs, “Daddy”) were smarter and better than everyone around us. It was part of my indoctrination/brainwashing, to help hide the abuse i think, but like all of her other methods, it worked. I thought people were just dumb if we didn’t agree on something. My religion taught me the same thing, except not that they were dumb, that they were wretched and in need of saving. So going on behind my complicated and intricate facade, was this superior sort of pity going on.
Not very attractive, but i lacked the self-awareness to see it.
Now that i do my world view has changed, and my treatment of others.

Recently, the stress in my life has caused some backsliding. I find our society today over-politicised and dangerously polarising. I’ve been getting sucked into it, and it seems to have triggered a return of some of those old behaviours. Even if a person’s belief is provably wrong, i haven’t yet seen how it helps to treat those people like they’re stupid or bad. I get frustrated, and can get sarcastic and snarky at times, but there’s a time and a place for that, in my opinion, e.g. with my husband. If i don’t vent, i’ll explode, and sometimes i need a safe place to bleed off the unkind thoughts. I know there are people who don’t need to rant and say stuff like, That’s so dumb/selfish/mean, etc., but i’m not that person. Maybe some day i will be, but not today. Today what i can manage is to keep my shitty commentary to 1 or 2 safe people that it won’t hurt, who know me and know my heart. People who know that part of managing the way my brain works, involves expressing most of what i’m thinking – either by writing, talking, or both.

I was using social media to write some of it; meme-ing and snarking my way around. It took a few weeks, but i’ve realised i’m contributing to the fear and fury that has a stranglehold on so many of us in our current situation. I thought it was okay because i thought i was justified. But even if i am right about some things, it doesn’t feel good inside to be a jerk about it to others. I mean, the initial release of pent-up emotions gives me some relief, but i can’t purge it all because some of these things that are upsetting me are ongoing. My anger and fear and sadness about some issues is festering, becoming poisonous. I’m seeing things in terms of us and them, and sometimes worse, us vs them, and that’s not who i want to be. I’m actively trying to be the opposite of that. I want to be a helper, a healer, a bridge-builder. I want to listen and try to understand.
Sniping at others isn’t helping our current climate.
Taking a look around and seeing that many, if not most of us are varying levels of scared and pissed off and mourning various losses, does help, i think. I hope.

As with any of my blog posts, this isn’t to tell anyone else how they should or shouldn’t think or be. These are my thoughts about who i am and want to become. I want to offer hope that you can figure out who you are, and foster the stuff you want, and change the stuff you don’t. Sometimes it’s been particularly hard due to the way i was raised and the way my brain works because of what happened to me growing up. And there have been times, like the past couple of days, where i’ve seen i was behaving poorly. I’m humbled, but not humiliated. I’m a work in progress, and this was only a small course correction. I feel back on track. I don’t feel so out-of-step with the rest of the world, now. I’m not looking at others with dagger eyes and acid in my guts.
This is better, i think.
For me and everyone around me.
It’s easier for me to be a better human when i like myself more, and i wasn’t liking myself as much when i was acting all cranky and judge-y.
I’m love-goggling again, and i like myself much better this way.

May Love and Peace Be Yours Today, in Whatever Measure Possible,
~H~

Blind Date

Twenty-five years ago today i went on a blind date. We weren’t set up, we found each other. Back in those days, we didn’t have internet dating, but you could find someone by dialing various phone numbers that hosted dating “profiles”, done by recording your voice.

Yes, i’ve told this story dozens of times, and i’m telling it again. It’s one of the best things about getting old.

Although i’d had a number of relationships of a sort, and even been engaged, i’d never been in love. Obsessed? Yeah, once. Regular bedmate that i found tolerable to hang out with for dinners and such? A couple of times. Infatuated? One time – the last guy before the blind date guy. He was a bad boy type, and my first and only experience with such. He was handsome and charming and funny, with a predilection for older women who’d pay for his addictions and tolerate his constant cheating. He’d done jail and prison time. I was the first relationship he had with someone his own age. I met his family and they were obviously surprised. I had a little money, and when that was gone, it wasn’t a month before he was, too.

I cried and felt heartsick for a day or 2, but it didn’t hurt that much – i knew who i’d been messin’ around with. I put down the ice cream and called up a local telephone personals number and got back to dating. I recorded my own little advert, but i quickly discovered a problem. Guys were mostly looking for hookups, and i didn’t work that way. Yes, i had relationships that were primarily sexual, but i had to like you as a person first. Not too much like, because i didn’t want anyone to cohabitate with me. Try to tell me how to live my life or raise my kids, and i’ll yank your tongue out through your nostril. (Not really, i just thought it sounded funny. Also, my church could tell me how to raise my kids and i never questioned them. So i guess, if i was sleeping with you, you had to STFU? Weird because, according to my religion i was fornicating, and that conveniently never occurred to me. Anyway, sorry, sidetracked – back to my story.)

The other problem is my voice. As a multiple, it can shift around and sound all sorts of different ways. Due to some of what i went through that caused me to split off into my Bits N’ Pieces, i tended to have a high, very girlish voice around strangers generally, and men particularly. So, i was attracting lots of pervy types. We’d go out for coffee, or a walk in the park, and they’d say it went great but they’d never call back. It only took a few before i knew it was because they were looking for sex, and i hadn’t put out. I decided to yank my ad, and choose for myself instead of waiting to be chosen. It suited me better anyway. (Okay, brief aside again: it’s interesting/peculiar that i was taught to be so subservient to others, and yet, once i ditched my first relationship, which was sick and abusive, i, albeit unconsciously, always assumed the power position. I know now that it doesn’t have to be that way, but back then i didn’t.)

To navigate, all you need to know is, you pressed 3 on the phone to advance to the next ad. None of them were appealing, and every one of them started with, “Hello, ladies… ”
3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3… Ugh. So much ugh. And then i heard this guy’s voice, and he didn’t say Hello ladies. He said he’d been focusing on his work for a number of years, and decided he was ready to make some room in his life for someone special. He said he thought he had a heart of gold, and said, If you think you do too, leave me a message. I listened to it half a dozen times, not just for what he said, but because he had the kind of deep, deep voice that makes me weak in the knees.
I left a message.
I have no idea what i said.
I didn’t think i had a heart of gold either, but i wanted someone who did.

He called me and we talked. And talked. He didn’t try to arrange a meeting immediately. He seemed to be genuinely trying to get to know me. It was around 2wks before we met, and i agreed to dinner and a movie. He picked me up in his work truck, wearing a silk shirt and a skinny tie. Big, horn-rimmed glasses and long hair in a ponytail. For someone as dissociated as i can get around strangers and potential boyfriends, i remember quite a few things about it. I remember thinking Uh-oh, because he was my type. I didn’t date my type, because i wanted the power position. I didn’t want my feelings hurt, so i chose to date men that could leave me the next day and i wouldn’t care much. I also remember not being nervous around him, which was most unusual. I was constantly picking at myself and scrutinising every word i spoke and everything i did around others. But i wasn’t like that around him from the beginning. We ate, saw a movie, and then went out for a drink and a snack.

We saw each other frequently after that. He’d take me out for a drive, take me to the park, take me out to eat. I didn’t think much about sex, i was making a friend. I found him so interesting and i was comfortable around him.
I wasn’t comfortable around anyone –even my closest friends– and i had a couple of them at that time. I was hypervigilant. But with him, i didn’t fret or freak out. I could just BE.
And Yes, i’ve said this 100+X, but it bears repeating because it was and still is, the sweetest and most lovely thing…

We were 6 dates in before he even held my hand.

I had been used as a sexual thing since before i could speak, and when i finally got out on my own, i saw potential partners from a mostly sexual POV. I wanted sex, but i didn’t want attachment. I didn’t know what attachment was – i had no experience with it. I wanted what i thought of as a “boyfriend”. A title and a function that had nothing to do with emotions or bonding.

But then he went and treated me like a person and not a thing to be used. He spoke to me like i was interesting and he treated me like an equal. He didn’t try to get me into bed – he tried to get to know me. He showed me kindness, generosity, and RESPECT.

And then one day, after he had taken me for a drive, to see the view from a part of our city that i’d never seen, he held out his hand, and lay it down, open, on the seat between us. He said, Put your hand here.
I said, Huh?
He said, Give me your hand.
I put my left hand down on his open, up-ended right one.
He knitted his fingers through mine and squeezed, and then he asked me, How does that feel?
I could feel my face flaming hot red, and i stuttered out, G-good.
He said, Yeah.

When he dropped me back home that night, he escorted me to my door and hugged me for the first time. I wished he would kiss me, but he didn’t. He took his time with everything, like i was worth it. By the time he had me over to cook me dinner, i was hooked. When he answered the door fresh out of the shower, and his hair was down for the first time, i was done in.

This is all sweet and romantic, it really is, but let me tell you, it’s more than that. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I could tell so many more stories, but today is about our first date. The kindness and gentleness and respect for me as a person, that utterly disarmed every protection i had. They were all unconscious and based in dissociation; i didn’t know i had them. All i knew was that i felt good, i felt safe, when i was with him. I felt like i was pretty and smart and funny – i felt like all the things i’d ever wanted to be when he looked at me, when he listened to me. I felt like i was enough.

He’s been nothing short of a superhero.
He couldn’t save me. No one can but me.
But he gave me the first safe place i’d ever been in, and gave me the time to figure out how to save myself. And as you can probably imagine, someone with a history like mine, with diagnoses like mine, requires heroism. Sacrifice, patience, commitment, gentleness, and unbelievable inner strength.
He is the best human i’ve ever known, and 25yrs later my estimation of him has only grown. I hope we get at least 25 more.
It might take me that long to get my poop in a pile.
Heh.

My little fairy tale that became real life.

Peace and Love,
~H~

On the Corner of Responsibility and Consequence

Strong CW: Contains discussion of the abuse and neglect of my children, by me. References spankings and not being at home.

**********
Been hiding my scars in broad daylight bars
Behind laugh tracks on TV
If you can’t see the forest for the trees
Just burn it all down, and bring the ashes to me

You hear your mother screaming
You hear your daddy shout
You try to figure it out
You never figure it out
Your mother’s screaming
That you don’t deserve love
If you don’t deserve love
And if I don’t deserve love
Could we deserve?
Come down off your cross
And tell me!
~ Arcade Fire, We Don’t Deserve Love

I don’t wanna write this. My brain keeps reaching out and grabbing the words, stuffing them into little boxes and padlocking them closed. The people who live here with me are whining and weeping, clutching at me with greedy fingers – Don’t leave. The place i’m going is one where they can accompany me (they’re with me always and everywhere), but they won’t. This is a back alley neighbourhood, with only the occasional dusty patch of light. The shadows are full-throated and hungry. My precious Bits N’ Pieces will hover at the entrance and pule for my return.

It’s not like i want to visit this place, it’s that i must. I come here as infrequently as i can. Here i feel wretched and monstrous. Here i can sense my mother around every corner, i can fairly smell her stench in the air. There are rooms here where we live together, and pipe organs play funereal dirges. Everything is coated with oil and dust, like a poorly kept diner’s flat top hood.
I’m waxing poetic because i truly do not want to be in this place.
Oh, my heart.
Oh, my heart.

I’ve written of my children a number of times, careful to respect their privacy and mention them only as it pertains to my journey through mental illness and neuroatypicality (may not be a word – zero fux). Today i’m going to skate along the razor’s edge, and if i slice some off here and there, it’s as it must be.
Because if i don’t, my guilt will pulverise me and the cold depths of my sorrow will suck me down and hold me until i am nothing.

This is one of the things that i write about that seems to make people the most uncomfortable – my many and terrible failures as a parent. It scores right up there with the times i mention that i will never be completely healed or well. I’ve learned to dance around these issues, because i can feel the need of others to believe that it isn’t true. People hold on to these beliefs with respect to me, mostly because they love me, and i appreciate it. I can feel the warm and supportive place it’s coming from, and i decided to accept it and not press the issue. I also tread lightly and rarely because i’m trying to build and foster hope here on this blog, and i know many, if not most, find my stance on these issues counterintuitive.
I’m sorry if you find these beliefs of mine stressful.
Gently i will say that this is life as me, and this is how my brain works.
Your mileage will vary, and this blog has never been to tell you how to save your own life, only to give you some hope that you might be able to, because i am. I’m saving my own life, and these are my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs – this is my path, my road, my mountain, my ocean, my internal universe.

My children are all grown now, and i’m living in the days of the damage i’ve wrought, the price they’ve had to pay, and the consequences to them, to me, and to us.

I remember most of my first son’s early years. When he was somewhere between 6-9mos was the first time i heard 1 of my parts speak loudly, in a voice that was not mine, and seemed to come from outside me. I was changing his diaper when a voice in the kitchen told me something very specific about an abuse committed by my mother. And then there was the time when he was 5 and i slid to the back of my brain and watched as i hurt him. It was awful, and i watched helplessly, unable to stop it, and completely lacking understanding of what was happening. These 2 events might have been what finally opened me up to the possibility of being a multiple.

I remember some of my middle son’s early years. The first 4 were clear: i had a couple of solid friendships where we spent a lot of time together, and the religions (yes, 2) i was practising at the time were working somewhat. The problem with one was that it required a great deal of my time, and i left both boys with sitters too often, and for too long. And although i wasn’t abusive by some standards, the other required physical punishment, i.e. spankings, which i employed with some regularity. I deeply regret both things.

Then i fell in love, got married, and gave birth to my youngest son. To sum up, because i’ve written about this a LOT: falling in love scared the crap outta me, i dissociated, put on a tremendous amount of weight, had weight loss surgery, experienced my first obvious mania and was diagnosed bipolar.
It is one of the saddest truths of my life that i can’t recall much at all of his early years. Although i had abandoned religion entirely and stopped spanking my children, my neglect increased. Both older ones were struggling at school, and i was no support. I let the television babysit my one that was still at home, and eventually i was on some combination of pills and booze every day. As soon as their father came home from work i would leave until all hours.

I was receiving treatment for both multiplicity and bipolar disorder, but it wasn’t helping much. I was in and out of the Bin (of the Looney variety), in and out of detox, treatment facilities, and a handful of p-doc’s offices. My husband and i decided we needed to get out of the big city. My MIL took me in, and her gentle, quiet love helped calm me down for a time.
But the damage had been done.
My oldest son had become increasingly angry and refused to move with us. He emancipated himself and lived with relatives, eventually moving in with his girlfriend and having a child.
My middle boy continued to have big problems at school, and was paraded in front of many school counsellors and p-docs who threw a number of diagnoses at us. He got the worst of me. My oldest got some good stuff on the front end, and my youngest on the back. I was incredibly sick for the majority of my second son’s upbringing.
My youngest did well in school and was zero problem at home, but over a period of time he began manifesting his own serious issues, that have stalled his development into a fully functioning adult.

I have 1 son that wants nothing to do with me, 1 that purposely hurts me, and 1 that cannot currently function in the world on life’s terms. One has serious addiction issues, and 2 have mental illness diagnoses. All 3 are closed doors when it comes to getting to know them. They all have thick walls around them, they all wrestle with rage. They trust few, seldom, and not very much. They’re highly critical of others and hardest of all on themselves. One functions in the world by shutting everything down, one by wearing a mask, and one simply doesn’t.

And this is my responsibility. This is my doing.
Yes, i was abused. Yes, i’m seriously mentally ill.
But whether or not it’s my fault (it is), and whether or not i meant to (i didn’t), doesn’t change the way my parenting affected them.
I’ve communicated to them in every way i can think of, how sorry i am.
I’ve made it abundantly clear that i’m available for anything that they might want to say to me. I’ll show up and pay for every appointment. I will never offer an excuse.
I live every day working on myself, not just for my own benefit, but for theirs.
As none of them have taken me up on my offer of therapy, it is the only amends i can give them.
Trying to force them to tell me off and get angry at me would be for me, not for them. I have to respect how they choose to live their lives and handle their childhood.
I want to fix it, so badly, but i cannot without an invitation, and even then…

One son who has a successful life and happy family without me.
One son whose life is going straight off the rails.
One son who is okay as long as he doesn’t have to interact with the rest of the world.

I’m not good at balance, but i damn sure work at it all the time. I do not know where balance is, here. How much to carry and what to lay down. I know some of it is mine, but not all. I know there comes a time when, regardless of who did what, the responsibility for what comes next lies with the individual. I know what it’s like to be dealt a shitty hand, and i’m beyond convinced, convicted, and contrite that i was their dealer.
I don’t know where the line is, between doing the best i could, and my best not being nearly enough.

I mourn my broken relationships with them, and i mourn the lack of opportunity to make it better in some way. I see my mother’s hand in this, and my daddy’s, and my stepfather’s, but if i only cut them so much slack for their actions, i must also hold myself accountable.
This is treacherous territory.
I will continue to do the work in front of me; to live and learn and try always to be a better human. For me, of course. For my husband, absolutely. For the betterment of the human community, ideally.
For my children, because it is the least of what they’re due from me.

Put your money on me
If you think I’m losing you, you must be crazy
All your money on me
I’m never gonna let you go, even when it’s easy
Put your money on me
Or tuck me into bed, and wake me when I’m dead
I know that you gotta be free
But I’m never gonna let it go

All my presents are broken before they’re open
And the promises, the second they’re spoken
I know I’ve been different
My skin keeps shedding
~ Arcade Fire, Put Your Money On Me

Here’s to a better tomorrow, with hope that i’ll feel a bit less heavy inside.
Love and Peace to All,
~H~

 

Home, Bones & Unexpected Boons

I haven’t posted in a while, obviously. I fell. I was in the hospital for a bit. I was strongly advised to stay longer, but i know from experience that the care and support i receive at home is far better medicine. I may expand on what happened at some point, but not today. Today i want to write about yesterday. Literally.*

She lifts her skirt up to her knees
Walks through the garden rows with her bare feet,
laughing
And i never learned to count my blessings
I choose instead to dwell in my disasters
~Ray LaMontagne, Empty

I’m having to reset and redefine some boundaries at my Little Crooked House. It isn’t easy, although it’s easier than it once was. There’s no need for details, suffice to say that parenting adult children is different, and requires patience and time to make the appropriate adjustments. Fortunately, i’m adept at tweaking my life to get more of what i want out of it, and less of what i don’t. Yesterday i “laid down the law” as we used to say, and then left with my husband to help him with a job. I figured it would give all of us time to cool off and private space to process.

Hubby is considered an “essential worker” during this pandemic, and his work cannot be done from home. In fact, it involves working in other people’s homes, directly. I haven’t been anywhere since this all began. I’ve stated it before, but i’m happy to repeat the fact that i am an introvert, and perfectly content to hermit away on our farm. I say it often – in fact i’m sure some are tired of hearing it. I won’t be stopping any time soon however, because for me it’s nothing short of a revelation. As i slowly stripped away all the artifice and chipped away at my facade, no one was more shocked than i to find a private homebody lurking underneath. So much of the outgoingness, the ebullience, gregariousness, and ohsomuch charm, was a construct of either my abusers to hide their acts, or of mine to protect myself from any further harm.

So, take my preferred insular life, add in my current level of anxiety, which is burgeoning towards full blown panic, and know that this adds up to no small level of trepidation to leave my home and head into the big city. He leaves me in the relative safety of his work van, to talk to his boss in the office and find out where he’ll be sent and what he’ll be doing. I sit and fret, as i do… Will there be people there, will they be the type who want to hover and watch us work? Even worse, what if they wanna yack? I don’t want to do that most of all, but not for the reason you may imagine. I hate it because it comes so easily to me. I’m a multiple, and i can, and WILL, shift swiftly into Little Miss Conversation. My current therapy involves trying NOT to switch. I’m trying to stay in the face (the one in control of my system) and feel my emotions and physical sensations in the moment, present and mindful. I’m learning not to dissociate. Engaging with people i don’t know is one of the times when i’m the most dissociative, and as this is extremely difficult for me not to do, i like to take it slowly, one teeny tiny baby step at a time.

He gets sent to a small community that i once lived in when i was 18, in an area of my province where i lived for a number of years in a number of different places. There are tiny and sprawling acreages, plus farms and ranches of all sizes. There are mansions and cottages, trailers, and barnsbarnsbarns. There are rolling hills, lush expanses of the greenest grasses, and the most beautiful copses and vast forests of dozens of varieties of trees. And everywhere you look there is wildlife: so many kinds of birds, horses of all colourings and persuasions, and my favourite – cows. I can tell just by looking what breed they are, and in this area of my province you see dozens. I open the window and i can smell the wildflowers, the greenery, and yes, the cow shit.

We pull into a small acreage that has clearly been there a long time. The house is a modest bungalow, and has a lot of years on it. It’s no Martha Stewart model of genteel upper class living. There are wild grasses and flowers in patches of varying sizes, everywhere i look. There are neatly stacked cords of wood and i can smell them. There’s a garden with small, well-built-but-not-fancy greenhouses, covered in an almost opaque poly, but i can tell there are tomatoes and peppers in there. There are handmade birdfeeders, more than 20, maybe more than 30; some are hanging in trees, some are sitting on top of handpainted logs. They are different heights and all the feeders are different sizes, made obviously to appeal to various birds. When i step onto the porch, i hear a sound like a bee on steroids – it’s a hummingbird. There are a number of feeders and i see at least a half dozen come for a sweet sip of sugar water while i’m there. They’re incredible to me, entrancing.

The inside of the house is just as i’d hoped. A retired couple lives there, and it’s not fancy. It’s cozy and homey and has an old grouchy cat and an old, shy dog. There are well-tended houseplants and crocheted throws and embroidery in antique frames. The carpeting needs replacing and the window frames are in need of repair/replacement. Most of the windows have bird stickers on them, the kind my grandma used to keep the birdies from flying into them and hurting themselves. Every room is handpainted and decorated, and the bed in the master bedroom might be as big as queen-size, but perhaps not. I can see the shapes of the heads that lay there on the 2 pillows. The plumbing in both bathrooms has seen better days.

It’s perfect. The only way you’d get me out of that house and away from that land is feet first.

The owner is there, but he and his buddy are out in the garage making sausage. He’s friendly, but not bothersome. He invites us to explore the property and make ourselves at home. During breaks where i cannot help my husband, i do. There’s a creek, because of course there is. When we leave he gives us some of his homemade sausages.

The drive home is over an hour. Unlike the drive in, i don’t have the music playing. I’m looking at all the houses, all the land, talking to my husband animatedly. I’m talking about ranches my stepfather worked on and people i knew and telling him which ones are the Herefords, the Charolais, which ones are the Red Angus and which ones are actually Salers (they look similar). I’m telling him the best place to go for beef jerky. I describe where we’d get so much snow we’d need chains, and where we got so much dust i’d sweep 3X a day and it still wasn’t enough. We’re ogling the houses with lovely architecture, and laughing at all the new McMansions.

That’s when it hits me, like a blast of sparkling rainbow joy, right in my heart. It explodes like a musical firework, and spreads through my whole body. My throat clenches up tight and the tears flow.

I’ve heard/read lots of stories about people who are genuinely in love with where they live and/or where they came from. This area is not where i live, nor is it where i came from.
I visited here many times during my growing up years, but only lived here for a while. And i was living with my parents, my siblings, and still dealing with daily abuse.
But it doesn’t matter.
I love this place.
I mean love, down deep in the marrow of my bones.

There are some places in the city that i grew up in, that are spoilt for me. Places where so much abuse, so much evil was done to me that i can’t not dissociate when i’m there. One son and his family live in an area that i cannot get to without being driven there by someone else. I don’t drive, but i can navigate around the city very well using maps and GPS and public transit. I can’t get to my grandchildren’s home on my own, and even when i’m assisted, it’s better if they come to my Little Crooked House out on the farm, because i worry what seeing me dissociated or switched might do to them, and our relationship. Even though my son and DIL assure me it’s not obvious, that i don’t appear to be different to my girls, the anxiety and stress can make the days after fraught with potential for self-destructive behaviours, and a cavalcade of other parts that try to come forward and must be managed, as they can, and often have, placed me in grave peril.

I live with my husband on land that’s been in his family for over 100yrs. It’s home and i’m so grateful to live there. We have lots of green, and a lake constantly visited by great birds like ducks, geese, pelicans, and swans. We have hawks and eagles. We have both Mule and Whitetail deer. We have coyotes that sing to us at night, and Great-Horned and Snowy owls that hoot us Hello in the morning. We have cows and horses. Our ditches are filled with wild roses and spring brings crocuses of the prettiest purples. A local beekeeper keeps everything pollinated and the air hums with happy, busy buzzing. Our property is ringed with maple trees, and in late May and early June our dozens of lilac bushes fill the air with their unparalleled fragrance. I intend to live out my days with the man of my dreams, enjoying a land and a lifestyle that i’d never even considered. I grew up amongst my country’s most impoverished, and it had never occurred to me that it would be any other way for me.

All of that, yes.
And still, these lush valleys and rolling foothills that we drive through after work as we head back to a place that i’m astounded and privileged to call home – make my blood fairly sing. Make me feel electric pink and blue. Make my skin alive with wonder. Make my heart swell with a joy that i cannot explain. It surges through me and makes me feel like i am in it as it is in me.

And that is why i share this piece with you today.
Because i realised –and it bound up and mended old wounds in a way i don’t yet fully fathom– that they couldn’t take everything from me.
She couldn’t ruin everything.
There are precious things she took that i will never have again…
But she couldn’t take everything.
They hammered and pounded and pecked at me a bite at a time.
But my heart still beats and my blood still flows and they could not consume me.
My ability to experience beauty and feel joy and be a part of the Universe remains.
Intact and vital and travelling through ALL with a fierce and beautiful power.

This therapy that i’ve been at for almost 2yrs now, is the most gruelling, the most demanding, the most constant and inescapable personal work that i have ever done…

And for this day alone i would start back at the beginning and do it all again.

So take heart, dear ones who suffer and despair, for your toiling is not in vain.
I am certain of it.
Hang on.

I know you give because you want to
Don’t you think it’s time you learn to let yourself receive?
~ Ray LaMontagne, Born To Love You

*Now 2 days ago, but whatever. Heh.

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.