I don’t know what to write regarding what’s going on in my life.
The depth and breadth of my self-knowledge is not helping. My sharp insights have fucked off somewhere. I’m floating, disconnected from mindfulness, from self-awareness, from the people i share space with. I’m just existing right now, in this fog of sadness.
I’m unable to access my usual level of vocabulary. Words appear to have abandoned me. My ability to communicate about myself is lost, or maybe it left. Packed up and took off because it needed a vacation. I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I’m so dissociated right now i can barely think.
My husband took our dog to the crematory this morning. His eyes were red and full of unshed tears. I’ve only seen him cry once, and he’s only teared up a few times. Watching him be brought so close makes my own grief cut deeper. Her last week and final moments are all i can think about. No attempts at distraction have been successful for very long.
I lost a dear friend a few weeks ago. It went almost the same way. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and all of our interactions. But then our dog got sick and she was my only concern. A terrible distraction. I was by her side, barely sleeping, until we lost her. And then i tried to write.
It felt automatic and robotic. I felt no emotion coming from the words on the screen. I knew there was an emotional log jam, but i didn’t know what to do about it. I kept pushing, rearranging words, sentences, paragraphs. Putting one work-in-progress away and picking up another. Nothing. It all felt empty and meaningless.
I emote. That’s what i do. That’s my voice. A telling of brutal truths in flowery language. I’m a cheerleader in a straitjacket. My words are fire and ice, sunshine and rain.
I haven’t been able to connect.
Two days ago i got some good advice. Stop trying to write for my money-making platform. Stop trying to produce for the publications i write for. Write something that’s only for me. As soon as i took that to my keyboard, i bashed out a piece about my friend who’d died. It flowed straight from my heart and was done in short order.
I went back to my writing feeling like things were flowing better. And they are… But they still kind of aren’t.
I have relationship troubles – more than one. More than 2, in fact.
I’m facing the very real possibility that my entire life is about to step off onto another path. And while i don’t want that, it might be inevitable.
I’m standing up for myself and becoming more of who i really am, and it’s not being met with applause and congratulations, lemme tell ya.
I have a new diagnosis, and although i require further testing before i’m properly convinced, still, it’s thrown me for a loop.
Chronic illnesses; mine and others’.
I’m running on empty. Trying to function under a veil of sadness and a vague sense of panic. I’m having difficulty with this, a simple diary/update post.
I am dissociated and disconnected. Dissatisfied and disheartened.
I’ve had no anchor to keep me in one place. No person to talk me down. No star to direct my way. I decided to take control of one aspect of my life that i can control. I’m not going to name it here, but i needed something to ground me — a simple thing for me to focus and hold on to. If i can get what i’m after in this area, maybe momentum can propel me into and through some of this other crap.
I don’t know. I’m tired, i don’t have any words left.
Time for a nap.
I’ll try writing again after sleep and food.
I might try checking in here every day with random nonsense and stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Maybe it’ll help.
I’m hanging in there though, and i hope you are too.
Love and Peace,
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.
IMAGE: Tamara Bellis
I already knew i was dissociative by the time that inside wall came down, although it took years and many therapists of different stripes to get me to accept it.
My mother got into some strange things with some strange people when she settled down in the big city to raise me. I will almost certainly never know the exact progression of things, but i do know she liked hanging out with intellectuals. I’m not sure if she met them first through the university, or through her curious foray into the 70s therapy scene. She was into encounter groups, EST, primal screaming, hypnotherapy… a lot of body work and group work, which were all the rage at that time. As i’ve stated before, in my opinion she only used what she learned in an attempt to manipulate others more effectively. She used those she met there to hone and perfect the face she showed the world, and to feed her insatiable need for emotional upheaval and drama.
The reason i mention this is because, through her exposure to those therapies, i became involved. The thrill must’ve been worth the risk, or something else i couldn’t know or haven’t considered must have been in play. Putting me in situations with professionals, where i could possibly disclose what was happening to me could have caused her significant problems, to say the least. I will say though, she was a single mother, and while the time declared her loose, almost no one back then would have believed a woman capable of sexual abuse; not of a child, and certainly not her own.
So i have memories of therapy and counsellors from an early age. Maybe it was particularly savvy of her to expose me to that world early. Maybe she anticipated teachers making calls about an odd little girl who might be suffering abuse at home. Regardless, the school counsellors and social workers who were occasionally called in never got a damned thing out of me. (Rarely, i might add, to which i ask myself: Was i really that good, or were they that bad? I wanted to be rescued, but i had no idea from what – i think that should have been part of their job).
I remember being handed pillows and being told to punch them. One guy had his face right. inside. my personal bubble, yapping at me like a little dog. He kept saying, “It’s okay to cry, you know. You can cry.” Idiot. In others i see the ineffective and ridiculous counsellors sitting across from me. Urging me to talk, spewing assurances that i’d been taught not to trust long ago.
I remember lying on the floor with adults all around me, each one with a hand on a part of my body. They’re all saying things, maybe saying the same things over and over (chanting?) but i can’t understand them. This memory i recall like i’m watching it on television. I can see myself in the middle of that circle of big bodies and reaching arms and it’s as if it’s happening to someone who just looks like me. They were freaking touching me and so i couldn’t be there. I left my body, but a part of me stayed to observe from a safe distance.
It wasn’t until the halfway house that anyone suggested i might be dissociative. My in-house counsellor was a nun who’d taken some courses. She was a kind woman and i learned a lot from her. After i’d moved out and moved on, i did come back for visits, and at one point came back to them for more counselling. This time i was quickly moved from my nun to a professional social worker who was working towards her degree in psychology. She began talking about dissociation and asking questions about my memories. It was then i learned about the classic DID symptom of “losing time.” She suggested hypnosis. I’d always wanted to be hypnotised and we tried very hard but i was never able to relax enough. I’d only seen her a few times when severe paranoia kicked in. She would ask me to access my alters, and felt disgusted and panicky. I decided she was playing with my brain and stopped seeing her.
I kept looking for someone who could help me, but every bloody one after that would suggest i was highly dissociative and ask if i’d heard of MPD*. I’d never see them again after that. I began seeing a social worker through the church i was involved in, and after months of intensive counselling she gently suggested that i was dissociative. She said she knew how i felt about that, but she’d consulted with psychologists who specialised in dissociative disorders, and they agreed with her diagnosis.
Although i eventually left that church, and then her, and then religion altogether, i did know i had some interesting stuff going on inside my skull. The problem was i had a terrible opinion of therapy and therapists. They’d rarely done me any good. Of those that’d helped, one was a nun, and the other a charismatic, slain-in-the-spirit, funky-chicken-dancing, evangelical. It’s taken years for me to realise that what they did for me is love me unconditionally while validating what i thought and felt. That we no longer share the same belief in the supernatural changes that not a whit.
Ah. I’m now returning to my original point, which i began in Inside Out:
When i went from a top weight of 465lbs to 155lbs, my walls came tumbling down – and they weren’t just physical ones. The wall inside my brain between me and the others who lived up there came down too.
And just to make things more interesting, i experienced my first full-blown mania.
It was 2 1/2yrs of me living like a fully loaded 18 wheeler careering downhill with no brakes.
MORE TOMORROW? PROBABLY.
*Multiple Personality Disorder, now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
IMAGE: Adrien Converse