Dear Diary

Today i am snippy. I’ve been out of sorts and i’m churlish – not much fun to share space with, i’m afraid. I keep trying to keep my mouth shut, but it’s not working. Next step is hiding in my room and watching nonsense on my laptop. I don’t like being a jerk, and i’m kinda being one.

I need to get more testing with regards to the spectrum diagnosis, but that was recommended months ago and i have yet to act on it. I finally disclosed, but not to my family – on social media. Who does that? Someone with communication and intimacy and socialisation issues? Is it evidence that the diagnosis is accurate? I mean, the diagnosis is a professional one, but i ran from DID for many years before i accepted it. I could also judge all that i do now using autism as my filter, and see it everywhere, in everything i do, but confirmation bias is no more helpful than denial.

I just want to know the truth.
Just.
Pfft. Is that all?

I connected with some of my friends last night. Just seeing their faces made me want to cry. Not from sadness, rather relief. I remembered that i am loved and accepted for exactly who i am, by people that i trust and respect. I feel isolated and alone right now, but it is not the reality. I’ve been working with my husband, trying to make writing a career, living through a pandemic in a religious and politically conservative area where i’ve never quite fit. I’m in a bipolar mania, my husband and son and best friend all have serious health issues, and i got a new diagnosis that has thrown me for the proverbial loop.

I have so much that needs doing i’m frozen.
So i came here and wrote –a day late and a dollar short– but i came here and wrote.

These next entries won’t be like what i generally post. This is going to be more of a diary than a blog for a while.
If you’re able to tune in, thank you.


Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Kinga Cichewicz

To Do or Not to Do

I’m still in a mania. I had hoped my cycles were shortening, but it’s still here. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be shorter, but i am anxious and impatient. This is the process, and i am in it, and i am trying to push through.

I know i can’t push too hard, because i’ll stumble – which has been the case for the last couple of weeks. I pushed myself too hard to be a real live actual legitimate writer. It’s okay though, because i suspected i might (push too hard, that is). I’ve done my best to write my way through this; it is my favourite tool in my coping kit, and one of the most effective.

I ventured out on a different writing platform to do a slightly different kind of writing. I’m wanting to produce some writing that’s a bit more -i don’t know- professional(?), for lack of a better term. Let’s say, less intimate. A shift in voice, might be closer to what i’m driving at.
How about, not-a-journal style?

On this platform, there’s a lot of articles to read about how to be successful using it. I fell into that old, familiar trap of following other people’s rules and instructions. It’s easy to forget that other people don’t necessarily think like i think, or work how i work. Chances are they don’t. AA calls it “terminal uniqueness,” which i find arrogant, but yes, i am an individual who is not quite like anyone else on the planet, who will one day die, like everyone else on the planet.

Yeesh, when i’m manic even my sentences run. Heh.

I’m a bipolar multiple, with both picking and ticcing behaviours, and chronic health issues, like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, restless legs, osteopenia, and bruxism. I’ve recently been gently placed on the autism spectrum. (I’m still processing that one.)

What i mean is, i have a lot going on in the old bod of mine, and i’ve found it ill-advised not to take that into account whenever i’m presented with a step-by-step. After a lifetime of trying to fit myself into spaces and accomplish the generally recognised, societal perceptions of what constitutes success, i’ve discovered i ignore my individuality to my detriment. I force myself at my peril. I’m not sure if it’s an actual failing on my part that might one day be remedied, or if it’s merely the cost of living in my skin. Regardless, i think it’s something we all do, that is, filter through our nature/nurture: our experience, our worldview, and our level of understanding.

I hope that bit can be followed, because my brain is very busy. It’s going 200 clicks per hour, and i can’t seem to rearrange the words in that paragraph any better. It makes sense to me. At the very least, it can shine light on what it’s like in a mania.

And speaking of, the insomnia (a major symptom of manias) lately has an interesting flip side. While i can’t sleep for a few days, i’ve been hit with this strange exhaustion, where i fall asleep HARD, for around 4hrs at a time. I never sleep heavy unless i’m very drugged up. This last week i’ve slept like the dead a few times, and, upon waking i totter around the house as if drunk for hours after. It’s like my body is still half asleep. Weird as hell.

So, back to this writing on a new platform thing.

I tried to do it “right,” and that was the wrong thing for me. But i was able to figure it out almost immediately, and while manic, which is excellent. It’s what i’ve worked so hard to be able to do. To step a bit outside myself and see what’s going on with a critical eye, while being swept along by internal powers that are, so far, beyond my control. I wonder if i’d be this successful at navigating bipolar if i weren’t highly dissociative?

(I snicker-snorted here, feel free to join me.)

The problem now presenting itself is, do i push through?
My brain is working too fast and too hard right now. I am emotionally intense. I feel close a breakdown, which isn’t as scary as it sounds – i think it’s de rigeur for mania. I’m confident i can manage it, but… Do i try to be a little more functional? Can i reasonably expect more of myself than i was able to the last time i was manic?
Do i continue working to accomplish more of my goals, or do i slow back down to a crawl and just baby-step until it’s over?

I’m thinking i will blog daily for the next while, and see what happens.
I think the next step i was planning to take on the other platform might be part of what has me so wired.

More tomorrow.

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

Who TF Do I Think I Am?

I never write the title first. Not only did i just do that, but the title is ridiculous. It’s patently ridiculous. I mean, how could i, a person who has clearly saved her own life and achieved some smidgen of normalcy by dedicating herself to the pursuit of self-knowledge as the means to accomplish these things,
<insert gasp for breath here>
not know who i am?

The title is based on a familiar idiom that conveys contempt towards someone displaying pride. I mostly mean that, and i’m obviously aiming my contempt squarely at myself, but also… Who TF am i?

So, yeah, the good times are still rolling over here at Santa Mania, population: ME. Me in all my iterations, both figurative and even more figurative.
<insert deep and angsty sigh here>

I knew taking on the mantle, officially, of “writer,” would have fallout. Further, i knew i was taking it on while manic, making it delicate at the least, and perhaps dangerous, too. It’s definitely proven a minefield. There have been some close calls. I’ve tripped a couple of wires, but so far, i’ve managed to get out, unscathed.

I’m really, really struggling, though.
There are so many writers out there, so many GREAT freaking writers…
Who TF do i think i am entering this field? It’s huge and so many don’t even get published anymore. Some are self-published but never find even a small house to take on their work. Some find a house, some even find a major house, but STILL languish in obscurity. The chances of my writing finding a wide and loyal audience is almost zero.

This is where all the bells chime in, and this is where i’m gonna sound petulant and pissy.
Write because you want to write.
Write because you love to write.
Write because you have to write.
Write for yourself.

Listen Belle, darlin’, i’ve been living this provincial life and it has been a fine one. But then you sang so prettily and flounced about town on such impossibly tiny feet… And i went and hoped about things. You trilled and batted your eyes and the birdies flew around you and it sounded like beauty and truth and joy and HOPE, damn you. DAMN YOU, sweet girl.
And double dumbass on you, too.

Writing is going quite well, actually. As far as production goes, anyway. I can easily sit at my laptop and bash away for a few hours most days. Even when mental illness required i stop everything and step back, the last few days back in the game, have found me merely punching up and editing 3 or 4 2500-3500 word pieces that have already been submitted for publication. It’s not the writing that’s the problem, it’s the requirements of being a writer in my current venue of choice that’s proving a problem. And quite honestly, it’s not the place i’ve chosen to hone my craft and pursue it as a career that’s the real problem (although i find a lot about it to be problematic). Of course it’s me. The problem is me and the way my brain works, and the growth that yet lies in front of me.

More proving grounds with more growing up to do.
<insert massive ugh plus eyeroll here>

I’ve been absolutely, completely, and utterly overwhelmed by all the writers. Many are shouting about how well they’re doing on the format, or not. The ones who say they’re not, tend to blame the format. I think there’s probably others who aren’t doing well that don’t blame the format, but maybe because of that, they aren’t writing about it – they’re just writing? And then when someone basically writes an ALL CAPS piece about how poorly run or unfair the format is, there’s a brawl in the comments section over whether the author is takin’ us to church (preach!), or acting like a poopyheaded crybaby (waaaah!).

Listen, i haven’t spent 30yrs trying to overcome 12yrs of bullying only to step back into bloody junior high.
Like, no fucking way, okay?

Yet when i think back on other group situations i’ve been in, like work, church, volunteering, self-improvement groups and courses, and artistic endeavours, many of them functioned like we were still in school. Most of them, actually. Some were more like elementary. One or 2 – kindergarten.*

So… What do i do, pick up my Legos and go home? I think i’m likely to find the same sorts of dynamics at work anywhere i go.

Can you see that i’m writing myself into a corner here?
I just fucking saw it.
My brain is one tricksy Hobbitses.

I’m going to have to face the kind of bullshit that beat me down and broke me when i was in school.
I’m going to have to find a way to work with the dynamics to get what i want.
The obnoxious cliques
the overbearing hierarchies
the tribalistic othering
the frightening bullying.

The us-and-them, zero-sum game type crap.
The infuriating preaching, the cruel browbeating and the pungent stench of the chest thumper.

I can do what i did in order to deal with my past and learn to handle mental illness, i.e. i can go to ground and ignore it all. I might need to do that in order to maintain my equilibrium. But i could try

Not everyone in school was a stinkybutt hosebeast.
Seriously, lots of kids were really nice.
Mostly weak, because they stood there and watched while i was slowly pecked to death by ducks.**
But it’s okay, we were children and we were all just trying to make it out of our school years alive, and as intact as we could manage.
At least they didn’t actively participate.
I still vividly remember the names and the faces of the few who stood up for me.

Today i spent 3hrs walking through a little town i lived in for 5yrs. They were some of the least terrible of my school career. As i was taking pictures –it’s been 40yrs and not much has changed– i found myself wondering, Was it really that bad?

YES. Yes it freaking was.
I was being chewed up and spit out every night at home, and at school the next day, vicious little creatures tossed salt on my wounds.
Yes it was.
BUT…

There was a girl who regularly brought me to her house for lunch.
There was a boy who asked me to dance at our junior high “prom.” One day after school, he told all the boys who were heckling me outside while i was trying to walk home, that if they didn’t stop he was going to beat the heck out of them.
I had a friend i could hang out with after school, and another whose dad took us to the next town every Saturday for the $1 matinee.
There was the principal who rescued me from having to wear a dress every day:
“Ma’am, all the girls wear pants now, and they’re teasing your daughter.”
The teachers who fought hard for me to be skipped a grade. (Mom said NO WAY.)
There was the teacher who told me privately that she would have given me the lead in the school play, but had to give someone else a chance after me taking it the last 2yrs running.
The swim coach who told me, “You can’t go fast for anything, but you never give up and you cheer the loudest for everyone. I’m putting you in distance.”

I’m strolling down memory lane here, but hey, i’m sitting here in the van while my husband puts in baseboards at a house in this little town – everything is fresh from the oven right now.

My brain is clicking away with everything i’ve seen today. My heart is awash in a sea of old emotions. I know the people that live here in my brain with me will have a lot to say over the next while. The grand thing is that they aren’t pushing to take control. It’s been easy for me to finish this piece that i started yesterday. I’m in charge and that’s amazing, considering some of the awful stuff that came up as i wandered around the cracked sidewalks and crumbling buildings.

I have so many new stories i want to tell now, and they aren’t even all bad. In fact, i’d say most of them are just childhood snapshots: a thing that happened, a moment in time, a touch of sunshine, a taste of rain…

I’ve already returned to the platform, written pieces and had them published. I’d already intended to stay and keep pushing forward. But today gave me insight that has changed how i look at it. Whereas last week i was writing with gritted teeth and a set jaw, determined to trudge my way resolutely through the muck, i anticipate returning to writing at the start of the week with a new attitude.

There will be friends there, and teachers too, and i will find them or they will find me. There will be moments where it’s like a warm summer day with a slight breeze and the smell of lilacs. There will be days where i see old faces in the rain that blasts down my window – and i will be tempted to run and hide under my bed until the storm passes.
But i don’t think i will, now.

Some people will always behave as if they’re still in high school – whether for their good or ill. Some people will not. The thing for me to see and remember is that there isn’t a monster in every closet, there wasn’t then and there isn’t now. I do not have to recreate painful moments from my past in order to confront and handle them. It’s been done. I wavered for a bit. I almost fell hard. I took a couple of steps back and took a break. I anticipated that there would be some bobbles and even blunders. I have not yet blundered, but if i do, i’ll handle that as well.

So… Who TF am i?

I’m a grown woman who knows how to figure her shit out.
I’m a kind person who wants to help others.
I’m a creative being who loves to express herself.
I’m a writer – that’s who.
<insert Mona Lisa smile here>

Y’all enjoy the rest of your weekend, if you can.

Love and Peace,
~H~

* The religious ones, in case you wondered.
** Referring to a well known quote from the inimitable Maya Angelou.

IMAGE:
Steinar Engela

Feed Me Tacos and Tell Me I’m Pretty

Busy. Buuuusy, busy busy busy BUSY.
This is new for me, and potentially dangerous territory. I have to be careful. Always mindful. So far i’m mostly okay, but i must be willing to cut back or stop entirely if my current mania, which feels like it’s winding down, ramps back up.
This is it though. Busy with writing, working, relationships, busy with life. I’m not overwhelmed, i’m just capable of doing more. I’m not frozen, immobilised by my past traumas anymore. This is more of the life i wanted – and i’ve worked hard to get here.

This is a catch up post: random fill-ins, observations, things i’ve learned, maybe a thing or 2 that are bugging me… We’ll see. I’ll just get to it and see what i come up with, eh?
Off we go.

**********

First, my teeth. They needed cleaning, and i have 1 tooth that’s become rather sensitive. It doesn’t hurt all the time but, it hurts. I’ve had all my wisdom teeth removed, and lost a couple of other ones too, so i’m not keen to lose any more. Since spring 2020, i’ve avoided any in-person health care as much as possible, and that, along with dentophobia (also known as odontophobia) has kept me out of the chair for around 2yrs. I should say i was once deemed phobic, but therapy brought me down a few notches to what i’d say is more of an intense anxiety now.

I call to make an appointment with the office that helped me with exposure therapy, and patiently handled all my tics and quirks until i could get my dental needs addressed relatively easily. I tell them i’m fully vaccinated and ask to see a hygienist who is, also.
Dead silence.
I’m eventually informed that they won’t be disclosing their status.

After some time and information, i come to understand why, even though i don’t exactly agree. I’m getting twisted up, full of tight knots, and having trouble breathing. I’m weepy and irritated, but i begin problem-solving. What am i going to do, if my teeth need attention, but every office has this stance?

I go to my friends on social media and ask for input. For one, posting about what i’m dealing with calms me, and getting it out of my brain unclutters my thoughts and narrows my focus. After soaking up their support and gathering suggestions, i disconnect from everything and spend quiet time with my husband and pets. A quiet night with loving connections and fun distractions is what i need, and while i don’t sleep much, i sleep a little.

In the morning i feel ready to try and figure out something that will work for me. Unexpectedly, someone reaches out privately, and i’m able to find a place to go.

At the appointment, i try not to say anything about my anxiety and my trauma history. I did that with the last dentist, and it worked well, but i wanted to see if i could go in to the new office and not need to announce all my problems in order to feel safe.
I couldn’t.

I was clearly in distress, so i disclosed as little as possible to the hygienist, who was understanding and kind. I don’t feel like i failed. I’ll tell whomever i need/want to about my mental illness, it was just a wee test. I’m not ready for that yet i guess, and i might not ever be, which is okay.

She said my teeth and gums were in excellent condition, especially for someone who hadn’t had her teeth cleaned in so long. Then the dentist came in to discuss my x-rays, and here’s the suck: See, i have Bruxism, which is excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching. I grind my teeth when i’m sleeping, and i clench my jaw during the day. I can’t wear night guards because i destroy them. I’d been on Botox injections in my masseter (jaw) muscles for a couple of years, and it had helped tremendously. However, pandemic anxiety has kept me from getting them.

The dentist told me i’m cracking my back molars and need 2 crowns, or i’m going to lose them. Further, she said my tooth sensitivity is likely due to the Bruxism as well. She’s recommending to go back on Botox, and also to get dry needling. I also have bony growths under my tongue due to the nighttime clenching, and it might be partially to blame for my hearing loss.
It’s a lot.

I have a quote for how much it’ll cost, and a general idea of how much insurance will cover. I’m taking things a step at a time and not freaking out, but it’s clear this can’t wait any longer than it has to.

So i have anxiety about dental work and SARS-CoV-2.
I asked for what i wanted, set boundaries, managed my emotions, and went to my support system to get me through. I lost a good dental office, but it’s okay. They did what they felt they had to do and so did i. I have a new office that seems pretty decent so far. I definitely appreciate the hygienist.

This brings me to another bit i want to post about.

**********

I like compliments.
Actually, i love compliments.
And i don’t just love them, i thrive on them. They boost my self-esteem, creativity, productivity, and imbue me with a level of calm and confidence that i don’t have without them.

Growing up i got the message that i should be humble. Especially because i was only worth what i could do for my abusers, and they wanted to keep me down so it was easier to control me. But i received the same message from those who were good to me, and my religious community, too. I saw other good and “godly” people blush at compliments, and say things like, “Oh, you’re too kind,” and “It was nothing, really,” and “I just helped,” and “It was all so-and-so’s doing.”

I learned that the proper thing to do was to deflect, to give credit to someone else, to look flustered and embarrassed and squirm uncomfortably while clearly forcing oneself to say, “Thank you.”

So i did that – i internalised what was modeled for me.

Therapy showed me that i’m a people-pleaser. I fawn, i toady, and i try to read everyone, to anticipate their moods and needs. To riff on a terrible B movie that i love, i was there to eat humble pie and kiss ass.*
I did it all to be accepted, get approval, and avoid rejection. Thanks to my mother’s manipulative influences, what i did could verge on cozening, although it wasn’t consciously done. What i did understand was that compliments worked, that most people liked them, but that i wasn’t supposed to, because it made me conceited and “full of myself.”
Hello cognitive dissonance.

Once again, continued therapy helped me figure it out. The culture i was raised in, along with abusive parental conditioning, had stifled many aspects of my personality. I’d buried them in self-preservation, and any time they made an appearance i felt deep shame, often added to by those around me:

Who do you think you are?
Do you think you’re special or something?
You think you’re better than everyone else!


I did not. In fact, i’d internalised the message that i was bad and disgusting and worthless.
But thankfully, tucked away deep inside, i had a beautiful, marvelous, amazing and indomitable spirit.
I was a survivor. I wanted to live.

Therapy helped me set myself free.

Over the last year and a half or so, i’ve been well enough to help my husband at work. I don’t do it all the time, but when he needs an extra hand, i can go and lighten his work load a bit. He works in construction, so it’s physical labour. I have a couple of chronic pain issues, so the cost to me is not small, although i’m glad to pay it. If i go and assist him, he doesn’t have to train and pay someone else. But there’ve been times over the last few months where i’ve snapped at him, and it’s not for any obvious reason – i’m just churlish, and it’s not okay.

I apologised every time, but my snarkiness continued, and i needed to figure out why. I’m not generally an asshole, but i was definitely acting like one. Through paying close attention to my thoughts and emotions, i found that it was occurring most often when i felt like i wasn’t doing a good enough job. So, i started telling him this, and he’d respond that it was fine.
But i still felt petulant. I felt like a child, and became aware that my system** was at play.

I did what i do when my Bits N’ Pieces are particularly active: i asked them what they want.
It was like i’d pulled that old nubby metal chain that hangs from a dusty lightbulb in movie attics…
The light shone, i knew what the problem was, and went to my husband and told him:

“I need you to tell me i’m doing a good job. When you take a look at what i’ve done and say nothing, i assume it’s not good enough, and you’re not saying anything because you don’t want to hurt my feelings. I would like you to say nice things about my work; i need to know i’m doing well.”

My husband is very quiet. He was raised by parents who were emotionally unresponsive, and he has difficulty accessing his own emotions as well as understanding others’. It’s not natural for him to consider his or anyone else’s emotions. However, he’s been open to learning, and he makes an effort to meet me where i’m at, emotionally. I had to let go of the destructive belief, “if he really loves me, he’ll just know.” Once i was able to ask for what i wanted, we’ve both been able to work on me getting it.

In other words, he’d forget to praise me for my work.
I had to quash that silly romantic notion for the thousandth time (it’s dying a hard death – think Paul Ruebens in the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), then go to him and ask:

“Am i doing okay? Do you think my work is good?”

He’d respond with a “Yes! I’m sorry, i forgot. Yes, you’re doing a great job, thank you! I appreciate your help. You’re helping me a lot.”

And just like that, something relaxes inside me. My system gets quieter and i feel strangely warm and glowy.
My mood improves and i have more energy. Time stops dragging and i feel more able to do the job. I have more confidence that i can do it correctly. I feel valuable and important.

Compliments, man. I like compliments.
My BFF says, “Feed me tacos and tell me i’m pretty.”
‘Bout sums it up.

Let’s give my adventures in dentistry a call back now, shall we?

When i was sitting in that chair, a new-to-me chair in a new-to-me office, with a hygienist i don’t know and my pockets filled with anxiety and my body tense with stress – she said nice things about my teeth. She said nice things about ME and how well i’ve taken care of my teeth. She casually praised me and immediately i could feel myself softening.

I’m doing okay.
I’m doing a great job.

It’s going to be all right, H. Breeeeathe.


**********

This post feels good and right. I don’t need or want to muddy it up with the stuff that’s bugging me lately.
I think i’m cruising on the memories of those compliments, you know? Heh.

I’m going to leave it at that, then.

Y’all take care as well as you can.
You’re still here, so you’re doing okay.
You might even be doing great, consider that one!

Now i want tacos.


Love and Peace,
~H~

*From They Live: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And i’m all out of bubblegum.”
**If you’re a new reader, welcome! When i refer to my system, i’m referring to my DID diagnosis.

IMAGE: Sidral Mundet

Bugged & Bummed Out


So, yesterday happened. I’m not happy about it, but i lost the face from late afternoon to this morning. I was fully switched, so i have no idea what happened. Those hours are a blank, and so far, nothing’s coming back. I do know that an angry part was in charge, probably for most of the time i was gone. Some of my Bits N’ Pieces are so intense, they leave a trace of themselves behind. It’s like talking closely enough with someone you can tell what they had for lunch.
Rage, terror, garlic…

Plus, i’m absolutely knackered. The angry ones use up all my energy; when i come back i feel like a scooped out melon. These days i’ve been waking up early, and i mean early. Usually, i get up to use the facilities between 3 and 4am. The last couple of months i’ve been unable to get back to sleep.

There’s a few reasons for it. One is the writing. I’m trying to be a real live writer, i.e. writing like it’s my job. I read about how to be better at it, and other general thoughts from others on the craft itself. I’m learning about a career as an author. I’ve tapped into the passion i feel about it. It’s always been there, a pool in the centre of me, limpid but deep. Its quiet mystery always beckons, yet i’ve only ever dipped a toe in, or sat carefully on its edge and dabbled my feet.

Now, i’m fixin’ to swim.

There are other issues, but isn’t there always? Unfortunately, i fractured my left arm a couple of weeks ago. It’s causing me more irritation than pain. Don’t get me wrong, it aches like a bugger, but it isn’t unmanageable. The real problem is that it’s holding me back a little, and i’m chafing at life’s current restraints already. I have so much i want to accomplish. I’m not sure why i feel held back, exactly. Most of what i want to do can be done right here at home. I think i’m just grumpy and as fed up with all of this as everyone else.

I’m isolated and safe out here on our farm, though. We have money coming in and want for nothing. We’re all healthy and we have each other.

It could be a lot worse. I have dear friends who’ve endured nothing short of tragedy over the last couple of years. Many have lost those dearest to them.
I’ve been inconvenienced and delayed, nothing more.

Well, there you go.
Sometime’s a girl’s gotta kick her own ass.

Now that i’ve decided not to write about how tough i have it (because i don’t), on to the matter at hand. I lost time yesterday, and i have no idea why. I know my triggers, and while i deal with those every day, nothing was enough to trigger a switch. Yes, i’m tired and in pain, but –not to sound like a martyr here– i’m often tired and always in pain. I was writing, and it was flowing well. I’m receiving support and positive feedback. My fractured arm doesn’t keep me from writing or walking, which has become important for my physical and mental well being. My real life friendships are in some flux, but my online friendships are stronger than ever. The changes in my routine are stimulating, rather than overwhelming. I’m excited for what the future holds, not trepidatious.

I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.

I was up early, got some chores and some writing done before the hubs got up for work. I fed him breakfast, made his lunch, got dressed and ready for the day. I watched the news with him for a bit, but i quickly felt anxious, so i walked away and did more housework. I frequently hitch a ride with him into town, where he stops for gas and coffee before heading to the big city for work. I clocked 9,000 steps before i got home at around 8:30 or 9. I made 2 loaves of Friendship Bread and 5 pints of jam.

The jam didn’t set properly, which bugged me.
I kept trying to write, but it felt like i wasn’t getting anywhere with it, which bugged me.
An appointment i had, cancelled. Didn’t bug me, but change can be unsettling for me.
Couldn’t get my ass up to do any more housework, which was frustrating, and got me talking crap about myself, to myself.
I tried distraction, but nothing on telly grabbed me.
All my music – same.
Dogs were constantly underfoot, wanting walkies. I was annoyed.

And that’s really all i remember.

Woke up in the morning with a hangover/headache. I’m not drinking, it’s a rage hangover.

Feedback from my partner is that i was snippy and out of sorts. My texts were clipped. I didn’t have the right leash for our bigger dog. She would have been harder to handle, as she’s used to having around 3m of play. At some point after i met up with my husband after work, i got angry and demanded to be let out of our vehicle. Off i went on an angry walk.
My son relates that when i got home, he was downstairs but could hear me yelling. Said he knew immediately that i wasn’t myself.

These days i don’t struggle with shame over switching, like i used to. I’ve mostly accepted that i’m a multiple with bipolar disorder, who minors in anxiety and obsession. The thing that’s getting under my skin a bit is that i don’t know why i switched.

So, i came here to use one of my most productive tools. I’m writing about it. I came here yesterday morning, to write because it’s been a couple of weeks. I try to be somewhat regular and reliable these days. I want my readers to be able to count on me producing a couple of times a month. It’s not a stress, really. It’s helpful and appropriate. I’d drop it like a hot potato if it wasn’t helping or using spoons i needed for something else more important. But i wanted to write, and i needed to write, and here i am.

It came to me yesterday while i was walking. Because it’s actually the second day after i switched (Friday, if i’m hard to follow):

– I’ve been having trouble focusing;
– I can’t seem to get much done besides the basics.

I was irritated again, all day, so i decided to get my ass outdoors for a good long walk. It helped. Headphones on and just wandering around town aimlessly cleared my head. My thoughts were wandering around aimlessly, too.

It was then i remembered – i’m still manic.
Mania does not pop in and out of my life. While my cycles are significantly shorter than they were when i was first diagnosed (years long), i’m still a long, slow cycler. I could feel mania lapping at the shores of my consciousness months ago, but i’ve only identified being in an actual mania for, i don’t know, less than 2mos.

One of the chief symptoms of mania is irritability. I don’t know how i could forget that, except that i’m currently in a mania. My thoughts can jump quickly from one topic to the next, making it easy to lose track of things.
And you wanna know what?
I forgot about that insight until i made myself sit down and try and write this blog post again, today.

I would guess a large part of why i switched is that i’m experiencing a mania.
Another thing occurred to me though, during my walk. It struck deep and has stuck with me.
There may be times when i have no idea why i switched.

Not many people know themselves as well as i do, but i have limits. We know enough about the human brain to know we don’t know very much about it at all. And psychology is a very, VERY soft science, including the study of psychiatric disorders and neurodiversity. I know how my brain works in a general, non-specific, uneducated way; filtered through my own beliefs, experiences, and understanding.

What i know about my brain is that in some ways, it doesn’t function like other people’s. It does these extremely weird, often inconvenient things for myriad reasons – only some of which i’ve been able to suss out. There are things about my childhood i’ve forgotten, and others i’m not certain i’m remembering correctly. I know a bit about how trauma affects the brain, but i’ve only a lay person’s understanding. The abuse i survived was extreme and long term, and i imagine the effects have mirrored that. If nothing else, my multiplicity has taught me there’s a shitload going on up in this bat-filled belfry of mine, and i’m unaware of most of it.

I’m glad that i booted my ass out of the WHY-MEs earlier on in this post, but the truth remains. I live with serious, debilitating, complicated, life-altering mental illnesses, and at the moment my plate is FULL. I’m dealing with my own stuff, loved one’s stuff, and the world in crisis, on top of everything else. Whether or not everyone else has got a tonne of stress (and they do) doesn’t change the reality of my situation.

My brain will do what it’s going to do.
My job is to cope the best i can.

Yeah, not the most interesting or inspiring of posts, but it’s helped me to write it. The tool got the job done. Maybe now that i’ve got this out of the way, i can get back to my writing job.
I’m hopeful.

ETA: I’m posting this Saturday afternoon, and my time loss occurred on Wednesday. Since then, while chatting with a friend, it came up that one of my medications may be at least partly responsible. One of the known side effects is “mood swings,” so i guess i’ll be looking into that, now.

Love and Peace,
~H~



IMAGE: mana5280

Blippity-Blobbity-Oops!


Ah, so… I’ve hit my first wee bump with the writing thing. At long last, and apparently surprising to precisely zero people so far (although i’ve only told a handful), i decided to give this writing thing i do a real go. I’ve been at this in one form or another for most of my life, but comparing myself to established writers, both great and small, kept me stuck.

A couple of things needed to happen:

  1. I needed to be functional enough to take on the discipline of a job/career;
  2. I had to believe i have something worthy to offer.

You say, H, of course you have something worthy to offer! Everyone has something worthy to offer! I read your blog and i like it/learn from it/am helped by it!

To which i have invariably responded (in my head, because you haven’t had this conversation with me, but i’ve had it with you many times), Yes, that’s the right thing to say, but is it a true thing?

I got serious about blogging, when i started this on my birthday a number of years ago. I had another blog where i basically disclosed my abuse story to some friends i trusted. As a recently diagnosed multiple (you know it as DID), many of those posts were strange, unsettling, visceral, and i was in and out of hospital while writing them. I was regularly not the one telling the stories, it was other parts of my system. When i’d gained enough control and stumbled across days and days worth of incredibly distressing stories, i was horrified. Mortified. I shut it down and locked it up. I still get a bit hot in the face just thinking about it.

I don’t have many non-internet friends. There are people i’m friendly with, and i refer to them as friend out of courtesy now. It’s a shallow, polite interaction, like discussing the weather (which i’m fine with, to be clear). In actuality, i would say i have 3. Three real life friends. On the internet though, i claim a few dozen. These are people i’ve known for nearly 20yrs now, and they’ve stuck with me through my n00b years, my self-harm, my commitments, my hyperbolic vitriol, and bouts of white-hot rage. The interesting thing is that, an inordinate number of them write. While i only know of one other regular blogger, many are working on a novel, or teaching English, or are successful freelancers, or established writers with proper publishing houses. And they’re good.

Isn’t that interesting?

A few of them have regularly given me a gentle push to write MORE. To write a novel, a story, anything.

Recently, something clicked into place inside me and i said, I’m going to write as if it’s my job.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
I know, based on years of introspection, learning who i am and how my brain works, that there is potential for some problems:

– i’ll want to do it perfectly;
– i’ll try to do too much;
– i’ll compare every aspect of my writing to everyone else’s;
– the transition to a higher pressure medium of writing will be difficult;
– i could hit overwhelm and shut down;
– it could trigger a mania;
– i could get switchy and lose valuable time and momentum;
– i could lose functionality in other areas that i’ve worked hard to achieve.

I started off reading article after story after listicle on how to get published. How to get eyes on my stories, how to get added to the best publications, and OF COURSE! how to make money. Each publication that sounded like it might be a good fit had their own criteria to be added as a writer. Then there’s networking, engaging with your audience, signing up for their newsletters and being asked for support money…

I’ve already been added to a couple of lovely publications and i’ve gotten eyes on my stories. I’ve even entered a couple of pieces in a not-small competition. Oh, and did i mention i am NOT techie, but i have to learn how to use a completely different setup?
Pardon me, but the learning curve was steep as fuck.

I resurrect some social media.
I look into upgrading my phone so it’s easier to take nice pics (i suck at it, like, no really).
I try to beef up my interactions with people who contribute to an overall flavour i’m trying to… What, communicate? Sell?

I’m getting up at odd hours to write because i can’t sleep.
OH! and here’s some other things:

– a relationship exploded;
– my husband needed me to work with him somewhat regularly;
– and Mania comes knocking on my door asking if i want to come out and play.

So… That happened quickly.
At least i’d anticipated it. I talked to my partner and a couple of trusted friends.
And then i was stressed at work and annoyed and i got switchy.
I took a fall. Tripped over a light and a thick cord and went down, hard.
I lost the face, and a few days along with it.
It’s just how it goes, man.

I’m quite aware the tone of this piece is manic. It’s full of dramatic pauses and single lines for added emphasis. This is what i’m like when i’m in a mania. I don’t think i’m going to go any further down that road than where i am right now. I have plenty of tools at my disposal, and i’ll use any and all of them. I have supportive people who know i’m manic and we have open dialogue. They have a ticket to ride, and by that i mean they have permission to check in on me any time they wish. They’re allowed any commentary and no subject is taboo. I can’t know for sure what’s coming, but who does? I need to prepare for tomorrow but be as present and mindful as i can be today. Keep my mind on the business at hand, which isn’t being the poster child for how to be a successful internet writer.

I’m going to write for a few publications, only. I’m going to focus on giving them quality product. I’ll interact with my readers a little, when i can. I’ll do a teeny bit of work on my social media, so i guess that means pithy commentary and shitty pictures.
And, pause for effect…

This place is integral to my continued mental health.
If you got through whatever this is, you’re a rockstar — Thank you!

I feel more grounded just plunking all this out on my keyboard this morning. That’s how it works for me, here. Money would be nice, but it’s not my currency. Heh. I place my value in my own mental health, and in being able to help someone see the possibilities for having more of what they want and less of what they don’t. I won’t tell you how you should go about it, but i will give you an unvarnished look into how i’ve gone about it for me.

Y’all hang in there as best you can.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Sarah Kilian

Saying No & Expecting Better

I’m being myself and setting boundaries and it’s a trip, man. I’ve been doing it for a while, but my capacity for saying No and Stop that has been steadily increasing. In addition, my fear of being rejected, misunderstood, or purposely harmed has decreased. I’m at the point in my healing where i’m present, conscious, and mindful enough to feel strange and different. Like, brand spanking new, just out of the box. It’s quite the experience. I’ve been tackling some bigger problems that have been an issue for years, and most of those involve how i deal with other humans.

I’ve tolerated low-key abuse from a loved one for years, now. I’ve done so due to guilt over being crappy at relationships in general, and making awful mistakes in our relationship, specifically. They’ve seen me at my worst. I was dissociated to some degree most of the time in the beginning, and after that I was in and out of control; erratic is putting it mildly. I’ve let them down more times than i know or could count, and i’m to blame for some of the burdens they carry.

So when they called me names, i let it pass.
When they broke stuff, i reminded myself i’ve broken stuff, too.
When they invaded my personal space aggressively, i backed down.
When they invaded my personal space gently, i shut down.
When they broke promises or otherwise let me down, i overlooked it.
When they picked at me: corrected my language, questioned my beliefs, treated me as less than, called me out for behaviour they themselves were displaying…
I dissociated. I questioned my reality.
I became smaller and smaller.

Now i am stronger. I know myself better and see things more clearly. I’m present and mindful in most interactions with loved ones, so i’m not nearly as apt to accept another person’s version of events over my own. I understand there’s perspective and sides of a coin, which includes my perspective and my side. I’m beginning to know my worth and i no longer fold like a cheap suit, allowing someone power and control over me. EVEN LOVED ONES.

We’ve been dysfunctional since the beginning, but that was on me. Eventually things shifted as the nature of the relationship changed. I won’t accept abuse from anyone any longer. However, our ties are the kind that i will never sever. And because i’m older and wiser, i can take the lead (and frankly i should) on changing the way we treat each other. It’s not been an easy adjustment for either of us, but especially them. I’ve been sick and dysfunctional for most of their lifetime. This is just and right and good, but in a very real way it isn’t fair. Many of our interactions have been unfair to them.

But this is for the best – and that’s true for both of us.

I’m laying down firm boundaries:
– You cannot speak to me like that;
– You must contribute this, this, and this to our relationship;
– Destruction of property will not be tolerated;
– Aggression will be met with you being removed from my space.

It took some years to get here, because they deserved time to come around to the changes in me. Almost no one else gets that time, but they do, and trust me, they’ve earned it. The best thing i’ve done for them, and for our relationship, has been my commitment to myself. Let me be clear though – i utterly reject the belief that one must love oneself before being capable of loving anyone else. In my life it is provably not so. It was my love of them and others, that gave me the will and the strength to learn to love myself.

I couldn’t love myself as a child. I didn’t possess a child’s normal, natural selfishness. I was alive only for the consumption and pleasure of others. I remember thinking about my uncle when i was very small. I knew i was alive because of the feelings in my body when i thought of him. It was pure, joyful, beautiful, love. I know i loved others, but i was so dissociated all the time i rarely felt anything. I certainly loved my grandparents, and my long time babysitter, but i adored my uncle. If you’d asked me i would’ve said i loved my mother, of course. And the man that i called Daddy. But inside my body there were no feelings that would normally be associated with love. I felt a desperate ache; a pain, mixed with an imperative to please and placate. There was numbness, too. And a dark, sucking void of nothingness filled my bones instead of marrow.

It never occurred to me to love myself – i barely thought of myself. In some ways i was no more sentient than a sneezing sponge. No more than a houseplant that grows towards the window filled with sunlight. I was responding to external stimuli in an instinctual way.

Now i am a fully sentient being, one who is seeking homeostasis. That involves relationships with loved ones around me being healthy and respectful. There are things i want and don’t want in a relationship that are subjective, others are objective. This is a transitional period for everyone in a relationship with me. Everyone. From my husband, to my children, to my friends, to the people who provide me with services. It’s all changing.

For people who’ve been in my circle for a while, it can be startling, off-putting, frustrating, annoying, and very, very inconvenient. Most people fight change, especially when it requires them to change, as well. A shift in perspective, a rebalancing of power, different responses, attitudes, behaviours… I’ve been met with anger and pushback from some people. Others have seemed resentful, almost afraid, and those people have noticeably pulled away.

I can’t find it inside me to be sorry for a bit of it.
I have empathy for their struggle, but i’m not remotely tempted to blur any lines or change my path.
I will continue to draw lines in the sand, to put up curtains, fences, doors, too. I’ll flip the deadbolt on any door to anyone. I already have. Some doors are locked up for good, some i might open if there’s a knock.

I’m bringing a better, more genuine, and absolutely more functional version of myself to the relationship table. Anyone is free to think of me what they will, and stick with our relationship or walk away. I’ve already marked some that seem to prefer me more fucked up. I can’t know for sure what their reasons are for that, but some appear to thrive on drama, some are chronic rescuers, others surround themselves with those they can control. And some, as i wrote about a short while ago, just aren’t that into me.

This relationship is primary, and significant. I’m laying down boundaries but i’ll never walk away. This is in both our best interests. It’s dicey now, but i know it’ll get better. For them, for me, for us. This trip is worth its ticket price.

Enjoy the rest of your week, if you can.

Love and Peace,
~H~



IMAGE: Mick Haupt

Red Carpet Ready

Yesterday was a fine day, full of creativity, functionality, and healthy interactions with others. I’m irritated and anxious today, and it’s hard not to feel like a failure because of it. Intellectually, i know it’s normal to have good days and not-so-good ones. Still, i’m stuck in Suckville this morning and i don’t want to be here. Blogging was on my schedule, so i shall endeavour to get 2 birds stoned at once.* Perhaps blogging will be my ticket out of this mood.

I’m still finding living a more normal life can quickly become overwhelming. I can go from 0 – 60 emotionally speaking, in about 2 seconds flat. It requires my conscious attention throughout the day.

Oh, what’s that, you’re pissed off, H? Why?
Can you do anything about what’s pissing you off?

Okay, i’ll start with this.

Yes, i’m pissed off. Someone isn’t operating according to my timetable, and i’m irritated. Another relationship i have seems like it’s fading, and i’m feeling alone and unsure. Unsettled.
I watched the morning news with my husband, and it amped me up, too.

Wait a sec…

I have that account backwards.
– It started with the news. I woke up this morning better rested than i have in weeks.

– I was a bit slow getting breakfast, because i was focused on how to finish something i’m writing. Then i kicked myself for being late getting my husband’s food. For being 15mins late.
And he kept calling me into the living room to exclaim over dumb stuff that people say and do. Those people i don’t know, doing stuff i can’t stop them from doing, irritated me further.

– After he left, i was getting ready to help an anxious person i know get something done in town. They were not getting ready. It was early, and they still had plenty of time, but i was annoyed anyway.

– I tried to do my hair in a cute style and failed. 3X. I don’t like how my hair looks right now.

– I’ve been away from the world for so long, and i’m so different. I have friends, but it all feels strange. I do different things with my time than i used to. I’m not always occupied with trying to hold myself together. I don’t party. I clean, i garden, i exercise, i write. I act differently. I’m not kissing up to everyone so they like (don’t hurt) me. I ask for more from people and i tolerate less. I’m better able to define what i’m looking for in a friendship: what i’m willing to give and what i expect in return.
I’m still afraid to lose what i have. Afraid i won’t get more of what i want. I’m lonely and unsatisfied.

Ah, there it is.

I’ve been hermitting for over a decade. I’ve rarely ventured out to do more than shopping. I have my online community and 1 or 2 “real life” friends. I’ve been grinding away at this brain of mine, and it’s been emotionally, mentally exhausting, and incredibly intense, deeply personal work. In early 2020, i felt ready to reenter the world. I intended to do it slowly and carefully, like a day pass from my self-imposed exile.
Well, everyone knows what happened in the spring of 2020.

I am now champing at the bit to get out here and test myself, but it turns out it’s not over yet.
I’m ready for the world, but it’s not ready for me.
And i’m realising that even when it is, it’s not going to be what i’d been imagining in the back of my mind.

No red carpet.
No fanfare.
No audible gasps and breathless requests for a picture.

You might be chuckling, and i am too, but only a little.
I know it’s silly, but i live with little kids in my brain. They wanted a Lifetime Achievement Award from somebody. They wanted to wear a designer dress and have their picture taken and attend a fancy party afterwards.
And dammit, they are me and i wanted that, too.

I am feeling myself move away from certain people, places, and things that were once a part of my day-to-day life, and that’s scary. The unknown is scary. New stuff is scary.

I’m feeling like a brand new person. I think i might be the person i’ve been trying to be my whole life, and *SIGH* no one’s really noticed. The changes i’ve made have been so slow in coming, so fucking gradual, that i’ve been robbed of my big reveal. There’s been no TA-DA!

It feels like i left it all on the stage in the first act, and as the lights come up i see there’s no one in the audience. Do i step up and perform Act Two for an empty theatre?

There you have it, readers. This is how i work. I do this kind of thing in my head most days.
I feel something, i notice i’m feeling it.
If i don’t like feeling it i’ll see if there’s something i can do to change the feeling.
Or maybe i can change how i feel about the feeling.

Today i did some digging and figured out my feeling was deeper and bigger than how it was manifesting. I’m struggling with friendships, and it’s hard, but it’s much more than that.

I am ready for better, more significant connections with other people. I am excited to show my new self off. I am looking for more acknowledgement than i’m getting.
So, is there anything i can do about it?

Of course there is!

The most important thing is to ask for what i want.
I’m as prepared as i can be not to get it. I believe the biggest reward for me, will be in the asking. That’s a risk, as rejection can be a huge trigger.

I’ve started looking at it this way, though:
I know how vital and liberating my NO is for me. I believe in everyone’s right to use it.
I also know that their reasons for it will be none of my business, and they won’t owe me an explanation. I can ask, but they aren’t obliged to give me one.
This might seem harsh, but it’s as liberating as NO is, for me.
It takes burdens from me that i shouldn’t be carrying.
My upbringing taught me that everything was my responsibility, and anything that went wrong was my fault. And that’s simply not true.

There are things about the way i’m feeling that i cannot change:
I’m still mostly isolating and socially distanced when i have to interact with people outside my bubble. I don’t know when that’s going to change.
If i shift my perspective the tiniest bit, it doesn’t have to be lonely and frustrating.
My gift is that i’ve been doing this longer than most, and it was my jam, man. I’m good at it, and i can easily do it for longer. Sure, i don’t want to, but i can, and i will.
Plus, this is an opportunity to continue to make changes, changes that will make the new me even more obvious! I’ll be a bigger sensation!
And if i don’t get noticed by the people i want to notice, to the degree that i want them to, well…

I’ll probably blog about that, too.
And i’ll get over it, and move on.

**********

After i blogged about this, i was able to enjoy helping my someone do the thing they needed to do. They were ready before i was, and i enjoyed the time we spent together.
And yes, my friendships are in flux, and it’s uncomfortable for me. I don’t know who will be left standing beside me. I don’t know who’ll walk away. Maybe me, maybe them, maybe both of us. Maybe we’ve already done so. When it comes to friendships, i know i catastrophise and sometimes i don’t see things clearly. There’s time to figure it out.
And i will.

This isn’t much of a post, and it might seem kind of weird. But it’s a glimpse into my process. I share it, not so that you do what i do, but so you see that i’ve found a way to do it that works for me. I hope what you take away is that if i can do it, maybe you can, too.

Love and Peace,
~H~
*Trailer Park Boys reference.



IMAGE: Gordon Cowie

Cookies & Puppy Dogs

My life is becoming busy. In the eyes of others, it might appear to be something close to normal. That’s what i’m after. Many of us are returning to routines and activities that had been curtailed or eliminated due to the pandemic. The cause of my jam-packed schedule is different, though. See, to get close to normal, i put myself in a kind of quarantine for nearly a decade. Not much peopling, and a great deal of introspection, therapy, and personal work.

My investment is finally beginning to pay some real dividends. I’m reentering the world with a better attitude and ability to cope. I’m taking on new challenges to determine if i can achieve bigger goals. Who knows, maybe make some dreams come true. It’s going to take hard work and commitment, as most big dreams do. Even 6mos ago, i lacked the brain space and discipline required to climb this particular mountain. I mean, i had some, but not yet enough. I figured i’d just keep truckin’, and at some point it would become clear that it was time.

My tendency is to, somewhat unconsciously, work myself into a corner. When it’s something i want to do/have/be, but i’m procrastinating, or afraid of failing, or overwhelmed by the work load required to accomplish the goal, i trick myself into it, a little. I can use the way my brain works to my advantage. I hide the goal away and my subconscious works behind the scenes, maneuvering me into position.
That’s weird. Let me provide an example:

A while back i knew my husband and i were going out for a dinner date, the first one since our anniversary in the spring of 2020. The pandemic has made my anxiety difficult to manage. I couldn’t quite make myself go to the ER when i broke my finger. I anticipated eating at a restaurant, even on the patio, would be a challenge. I wasn’t keen on doing it, but it felt important, so i was gonna try. I tucked it away in a little hidden pocket of my brain and continued with the business of living.

When my thoughts returned to it, i quickly shoved it back into its pocket. I did start using drive-thrus to buy coffee and snacks. Let me be clear: I don’t drive. I walked up to the window to make my purchases. I guess because of the pandemic, they seemed fine with serving walk-ups. I also ate with people that didn’t live with me. It was outside, but still. I began darting into grocery and drug stores to grab 1 or 2 items.

I didn’t think about the date. I’d allow a quick thought about how much i’ve missed restaurants and wait staff, and not having to clean up after a meal. I did smile when my husband casually mentioned how much he was looking forward to it. But i didn’t dwell. I treated it like i would when i’m triggered to recall an unpleasant memory, by mentally shoving it away from me. I didn’t want to think about it, and so i didn’t… But i sort of did, you know?

Turns out we were the only people eating out on the patio, and i was barely anxious at all. It went well and i’m looking forward to doing it again.

All this to lead up to what i’m doing now that i had to back myself into a corner to do.

I’m writing now as if it’s my job.

I’m not getting paid for it, but maybe someday.
The important thing is, it’s something i’ve wanted to do for decades, but haven’t.

Any number of things has kept me from it, but i’ve cleared out enough clutter that there’s enough room in my life and in my brain, to take it on and see what i can do.

Once i made the decision and started in on the work, my life had to explode a little bit. It seems to be the way of things when i take on some thing new. There’s been a lot going on in our lives, my husband and i. He was laid off and had to find work. We’re having kid issues. I’m having friend issues. Some people i love are in crisis. We have a metric eff tonne of legal matters to settle. And we’ve been trying to work on some relationship stuff that desperately needs our attention. It all just went POP! like a New Year’s confetti favour.

It became too much last week.
The morning started with me laying down a firm boundary with my kid that he didn’t care for, which he expressed vociferously. Fortunately i had a walking date with a friend, so i could leave to calm down. My friend would be gone for a few hours, so she offered her basement as a quiet place i could get some writing done, without interruption.

I was able to get quite a bit accomplished. I went outside to enjoy the sun with my friend, but she was busy getting ready to go out. It wasn’t a good time for the kind of conversation that i wanted to have. Then something triggered me so hard i had to leave. Like, immediately. She was on the phone and i couldn’t even wait to say goodbye. I gathered my things and started walking as quickly as i could.

My husband was supposed to be home early, but he was delayed. New job means don’t turn down any work thrown your way. Can’t stay with friend, can’t go home, hubby isn’t coming any time soon.
And then it aaaall hits me.
I’m new and my life is new. And yes, i worked hard to clean my slate, but now that it’s clean there’s nothing on it – i mean, there’s no ONE on it.
I suddenly felt so alone, and lonely. All my friends are online – i only have a couple of “real life” friends now. They have their own lives and we’re living through a pandemic, to boot.
There are issues in all my relationships that may not be resolvable.

If that isn’t enough, my number one priority is dissociating as little as possible. My system’s mandate is to leave the face to me, to let me be in control. I try to think and feel in real time. I try to be as fully present and in the moment as i can. For someone who has dissociated her way through most of her life, it’s a lot. I’m exhausted. Some days i’m a gnat’s wing away from collapse.
My life has room for more function and accomplishment. I’m attempting to fill it, slowly and carefully, but i still regularly feel like i’m drowning.

That’s how i felt walking away from my friend’s house. By the time i got to a park where i could sit, i was sweaty and out of breath and close to panicking. I knew i needed help, but i had no one, and thinking about that was making it worse. I’m sitting on a park bench with big sunglasses on, hoping no one walks by and sees the tears or my chest heaving with the effort it was taking not to cry audibly.

Which is when i remembered that i do have good friends, online.
So i reached out and asked for help.

They responded immediately. I told them i was struggling and they grounded me, then took my mind off my problems with funny stories. It wasn’t long before i stopped crying and was breathing normally. The park was mostly deserted and no one bothered me. My husband called and said he’d come get me.

I was in the face the whole time. I didn’t slide, i didn’t switch. In fact, i’d say i didn’t dissociate at all.
I heard the voices and i felt the pressure, but i resisted the urge to hide away in my brain and let other parts of me handle things. It wasn’t even difficult. Feeling the way i was feeling was dreadful, literally, but i knew what to do and i did it.

I’m starting to be able to choose not to dissociate.
It might be the biggest accomplishment of my life.
Now, if i can just find where i fit as a writer, life will be cookies and puppy dogs.



Love and Peace to Everyone.
Try to have a good weekend, if you can.
~H~



IMAGE: Tamara Bellis

Did You Die, Though?

I think most of us want people to like us. It makes navigating life easier if those we encounter find us likeable. Friends are a good thing to have, too. They support us and add quality to our lives (if they don’t, they might not be our friends – but that’s another post). Having friends is more apt to happen when we’re likeable. That’s where we can encounter trouble; finding friends can be tough, sometimes. Not everyone is gonna like us, and that can add stress to the process.
This stuff is obvious to most of us, sure. I share it for understanding and empathy.
Most people want to have friends and care about being liked.
Most people experience at least a little social anxiety now and again.

I’m gonna guess i had some grasp of this from before i have memories. My mother was volatile and abusive. When she was happy i was happy (even when i wasn’t), and when she wasn’t i was miserable. My life still wasn’t free from abuse when she was happy, but the alternative was far worse. My early years involved a number of abusers, and it was my job to make them all happy. And if they weren’t happy, there’d be hell to pay.

I’ve been a people-pleaser all my life. Even though the abuse is decades over, i’ve remained terrified of anyone not liking me. I survived my childhood trauma but i never left it behind. I’ve been like a ghost, haunting their own murder scene.

Once i started making some decent headway with my therapy, i began to see in how many ways my interpersonal relationships were problematic. The other person had all the power and i had none (whether or not they knew that). I hadn’t asked myself if i was getting what i wanted out of these relationships – it hadn’t occurred to me i could. I’d not thought to ask the most basic question of all: Did i even want to be friends with this person?

My social anxiety, and anxiety in general, is on the level where, once i was getting all with the deep and nitty grittiness of therapy, it became the easiest and most conducive thing to become a hermit. The stress added by others was mucking up the gears of my progress. Turns out, underneath all of that people-pleasing, affability and charm, was a die hard introvert who’d never had their peopling batteries properly or fully recharged. It took years to fill me back up.

Along the way i’d dumped my close real life friends (those who hadn’t left already when i was in the grips of crazy), many internet ones, and all extended family members save one. I’d also removed myself from party circles, as it can trigger mental/emotional issues, and is physically unhealthy to boot.
Which bring me to last week, and the reason for this post.

These last months i’ve been functioning mentally and emotionally so well, that i’d increased my focus on my physical health. I’ve needed to shed some weight, and i wanted to be more fit and incorporate more physical activities into my life. To that end, i’ve been walking. I love walking, which makes it readily adoptable into my routine. I live with chronic pain, and walking is one of the least taxing ways to exercise. It’s also giving me more control over my system’s urge to take off walking when i feel afraid, threatened, or overwhelmed. I spend some of my time on the road talking to my Bits N’ Pieces; addressing their needs and allaying their fears. More control – i haz it.

Last week i’d walked into town and was heading to a local park to meet my husband after he got off work for a jaunt or 2 around the lake. On my way i bumped into someone i know, and we stopped to exchange pleasantries.
And that’s when it happened.
A full on, holy shit moment smacked me right upside the head.
Lemme shine some light on that for y’all.

Three of only a handful that i still consider myself friendly with in this town, belong to a group of women that hang out together and do a lot of fun stuff. From the first time i met this woman, i liked her, and wanted to be friends with her. As i got healthier, i went from wishing it were so, to trying to make it happen. A little bit. Here and there.
Last week as i was walking away from our exchange on the sidewalk, i finally realised that she is not interested. Based on results, she doesn’t want to be friends with me.

The amazing thing is, it didn’t bother me all that much. She might not have the time. She might not like me enough, or even at all. I could have given it more time and ascribed more potential reasons why, but i know the bottom line is it doesn’t matter and it’s not my business anyway.
I’d already figured out i didn’t want to be a part of the group she’s in (which is a good thing cuz i ain’t welcome), and that felt liberating. Recognising that a friendship with her isn’t going to happen didn’t feel great, but it didn’t devastate me. It stung a bit, but it also felt liberating. It opened up some real estate in my brain and liquidated some mental currency that i could better use somewhere else.

She has politely refused my offers and it didn’t kill me and i don’t hate her. In fact, i still like her and i’m not scared about it. The next day i looked over a bunch of pictures of her and her group doing the fun stuff that i thought i wanted to do with them. I don’t belong there. They knew it and i do, too. I looked at other pictures, where she’s living her life and doing her thing, and i saw that i didn’t belong there, either. She hasn’t invited me in, and after looking for a bit, i don’t want her to. Friendship requires that both parties consent, and with the knowledge that i don’t have hers, my own desire has withered to almost nothing.

This is a big victory for me. I’ve smashed yet another sick construct my abusers built into my brain, and become that much more capable of functioning well in everyday society. I was rejected and i didn’t die.

And a week later, the lesson is helping me plan for my future.
I was vague again, i know.
Elucidation is coming… Eventually.
Heh.

Love and Peace To All,
~H~



IMAGE: trail