Stuck

I’ve spent the last week filled with dread and unable to write. Every time i click [+Write], i’m stuck. Initially i wasn’t sure what the problem was, but that’s not entirely true. Being as dissociative as i am, the knowledge was there, i was just afraid and instinctively pushing it away from my consciousness. By midweek i cried uncle and admitted to myself what’s going on…
Dream #2 is going on.

There is something there that i genuinely can’t access right now. Not without analysing it. And i have this feeling that i don’t want to know what it is. I call it a dream, but it was a nightmare. It’s the worst nightmare i’ve had in years, probably since i was going through disclosing my abuse history. The night after i had it, i had the first semi-lucid dream i’d had in weeks. I was in acres of lush green meadow grass, soft and warm and full of that incredible smell. The sun was high and gorgeous and golden, and i gazed up at it in awe.

Then something large and dark caught my eye. I could see it was falling towards me, and falling fast. It thunked heavily on the ground next to me and it was a man. And then suddenly, it was raining men, literally, and even as i write this, my dark sense of humour is not kicking in. It was horrific. They were coming down all around me, hitting the grass and making sounds like when you knock on a large melon, or drop a heavy stone on freshly laid sod. The meadow was filling with them and i knew 1 would eventually land on me.

Like i did when i’d first learned lucid dreaming as a child, i knelt down, put my head on my knees and cupped my hands around my face to keep the light/the sight of it all, out of even my peripheral vision. Then i squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as i could and i said, NO, i don’t want to be here. I’m going to WAKE UP RIGHT NOW!! And i willed myself awake. There is a literal pulling sensation inside me, like waking up from anaesthetic; i feel drugged and heavy-limbed.

When i was fully awake i felt the dread i’d felt the night before, and i knew they were connected. I felt sick to my stomach again. I felt that gnawing pit down inside me yawn wider.

I sit in front of this blank white screen and i sense doom approaching. The other shoe is about to drop. I can’t explain it, but i just KNOW. I never repressed my memories per se, my brain hid them from me, disguised as dreams/nightmares/night terrors. It has been my belief that i know everything i can know about my past at this point. It took a long time to separate dreams from memories, and then memories from drug-induced hallucinations and imaginings (i was often drugged during the abuse: alcohol, depressants, and even stimulants and hallucinogenics).

I keep myself busy and try to keep my spirits up during the day, but by the time my husband comes home from work i’m exhausted from the effort. I spend the evenings feeling myself slide around inside my brain, and have fully switched out a couple of nights. I decided that it’s got to come out, lest i find myself crawling back into a bottle.

I’m setting myself up for the best outcome. I won’t be tackling the dream/s until my husband has the day off. I’ve bribed my system with promises of things they like to do after it’s done. (They’re children after all, and i found bribery a very effective tool with my sons, on occasion.) I’m talking to my system more, and at peak mindfulness. I’m establishing trust, but also asserting my place as the mama/head monkey in charge of this circus. They live in my brain, and they are all me, so it’s no secret that i’m very afraid (not all are developed enough to know anything about anything – they are a feeling, or a moment in time), but i also have a solid reputation as one who can and will do the thing anyway. I remind myself (selves) that i lived through it, and if i can survive that, i can survive looking at it and thinking about it and dealing with all of the fallout. ALL of it. I’m hella capable, and so far in this life i have never given up – i don’t intend to start now.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but i do know that if i try to run from this or quash it, it’s just gonna keep getting bigger and sucking more of my precious energies into that ever-widening maw in my gut. Eventually it will either drive me into more dangerous switched behaviours, or i will go on an epic bender and/or wind up hospitalised. I know how i work, so i’ve got that goin’ for me. Heh.

That was almost a joke.

I will stare this in the face and learn what it has to teach/tell me.
I’ll feel the pain, i’ll grip the rage tightly in my savage breast and roar my way through, and i’ll embrace the wrenching sobs that i know are coming after.
This is the process; to feel what i feel while knowing what i know.
(I’m my own life coach, woohoo!)

Ah, there’s my sense of humour.
It never leaves me for long.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Alex Iby

Inspecting the Damage

WARNING: Discussion of self-harm, specifically head-banging. Mentions of binge drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders, also trichotillomania.

It would be disingenuous, or a lie by omission, to not post about my recent fall.
I didn’t wind up in the hospital this time, so YAY! but it was a bad one. If i’m gonna help myself, and have any hope at all of truly helping anyone else, it’s gotta be real, and it’s gotta be all of it. No convenient skip overs. There’s no need for TMIs most of the time; i can be tactful, and i’m respectful of others’ privacy. I know probably some of you will be saying, “Wait, your entire blog is TMI.” I would respond Yes, on a certain level, but trust me, there’s deeper and more awful. I don’t see the need for most details. I’m reconciled and almost comfortable, with being identified as a seriously mentally ill person. What i don’t want is for people to think of all the things that happened to me as a child every time they see me. What i don’t want is to plant specific images from my childhood in anyone else’s head. They are a terrible burden. And while i do need to blog/journal about it to a certain extent, there’s a line that doesn’t need to be crossed for me or any reader here.

I go to my therapist for the details, and even there, it’s rarely necessary. I went through disclosure many years ago, and it swallowed me whole for a very long time. I clawed my way out of the tiger’s mouth, and have no desire to ever be in its jaws again.

My therapy sessions have been a massive trigger for switching of late. Unfortunately, the way my system copes with triggers is to drink me into a coma (figuratively). I don’t even remember the end of the call, and they were off to the races. I was gone less than a week, but the damage was extensive:
– 2 broken fans,
– cracked mirror,
– holes kicked in bottom of bedroom door,
– broken 50″ television,
– concussion plus massive body bruising.

The shame and guilt are hard to bear, but i’m doing my best, so far. I understand that shame tells me i’m bad, versus guilt telling me i did something bad. The latter is true, but the former is not. It’s a lie that was programmed into my child-brain, by those who would control me to achieve their own selfish ends. I turn my attention then, to shame.
I’ve returned again and again to this in my blog since i learned it, and here i am once more. I suspect i’ll be working on this one for many years to come, but it’s all right, because now i know what to do.

My therapist told me some months ago, that shame is the body’s need for human connection. It may not make sense to anyone else, but it absolutely changed my life for the better. When shame comes upon me, i need another human to tell me i’m not bad. I’ve lived my life shame-based, and it’s such a powerful motivator, such a reflexive, driving force, that i simply can’t get out from under it without help. I require meaningful connection with another person. It’s like wearing a costume with the zipper in the back; someone else needs to unzip me before i can pull it down and step out of it. And i may even need help taking it off before i can walk away and leave it on the floor.

I’ve connected with my husband and son, and through them i’ve been able to let go of all but the self-harm. I hadn’t harmed myself in many years, and a return to this behaviour has me drowning in shame. Plus, the anxiety it brings me when i’m practically at maximum saturation levels already, has that elephant sitting on my chest again.

These last 2yrs of trying to mend the broken connections between my brain and body have been difficult, to put it mildly. The hardest part of it is not to dissociate through the work. To feel what i feel while knowing what i know. I spent years listening to my system, listening to my thoughts as i disclosed what had happened to me growing up. Now i listen to my body, because in an intangible and dare i say, rather esoteric way, my body holds my memories as much as my brain.
And as i say nearly every post, it is the hardest, most exhausting, most painful work of my life.

Therefore, i try not to fret overly about a return of some behaviours i’d thought long over and done with:
– the programmed imperative to GO HOME! when my system is in overwhelm, which involves immediately leaving wherever i’m at and whomever i’m with, and walking at a rapid pace towards the city where my abuse was most severe,
– the loss of days instead of mere hours,
– the involvement of law enforcement,
– hospital stays,
– head-banging and hitting of self.

The self-harm is a tough one to take on, though. It frightens me more than any.

The first time i considered self-harm i was 4yrs old. The first time i can remember banging my head i was also 4. It’s complicated. I consulted the internets to help me define what it’s about, because i knew, but it was so tangled up in my brain i needed help to identify the separate threads so i might unravel them. I know it was partially to punish myself for “being a bad girl”, but it was for more than that. I couldn’t bear the emotional pain i was in most of the time, but i could the physical. So it was a substitution of sorts. Finally, i think i used it to feel something, when i was in a dissociated state.

I learned quickly to make sure i was alone, and also not leave any visible bruises, or bang too hard, lest i leave a bump. My mother knew every bump and bruise on me, as she inspected me on the regular. She knew which ones she’d done, and which weren’t and by whom. The only time i wouldn’t be interrogated over a lump or mark she wasn’t familiar with, was when they were on my knees or elbows. For those, she simply admonished me for being such a klutz.

The head-banging only lasted until we moved away from the city i spent my first 9yrs in. Once she’d traded in her sick, twisted married man for a controllable underage boy, i dealt more with anxiety issues. That was when my trichotillomania began, which is not classified as self-harm, per se. I didn’t have to deal with the banging again until my late 30s, although i did still engage in self-harm prior, through highly disordered eating, binge drinking, and drug abuse. Once i began therapy around 12yrs ago, the head-banging stopped. I may have done so a couple of times after that, but i can’t remember.
To see its return worries me.

I was switched at the time of course, so i didn’t know once i was back in the face. I was doing my regular after-switch body check, and my heart plummeted when i saw the sheer number and severity of the bruises all over me. And the huge ones across my forehead made me want to throw up. My husband told me i’d locked the door to our bedroom and was screaming and bashing around in there while he was at work. Which means he learned through my son. I won’t stray off into that territory, because we’d wander far from what this post was intended to be and do. Suffice to say it made me feel sick, too. Which is when i realised i was probably concussed. I didn’t go to the hospital for a proper diagnosis, but i’ve given them to myself before, i know the symptoms, such as they are (vague and very like coming back from a switch), and i simply tended to myself as if i had one.

I’ve decided to take a short break from therapy. I don’t know for how long – i’m thinking 2wks – 1mth, but i’m going to leave things open to change. Nothing’s firm. This last fall/episode/switch/binge/whatever has scared me. My system, my precious Bits N’ Pieces, are all merely children, regardless of the age they feign. And this was a full-on tantrum. I haven’t destroyed property or attempted to destroy myself like that, in a very long time. I think they’re beyond tired and cranky. And they are mine and my responsibility. >>I<< am mine and my responsibility. I’m still going to be writing, still doing the work, but easing back on the gas pedal a bit. Turning down the intensity. This work will not be stopped, but it can be slowed.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley


Image: Austin Neill

Do Not Read

This is a dark time for me. This is the first time i’ve posted while i’m down the hole. All i feel is pain and all i am is ugly. I know these things aren’t true but i can’t shake them. Ms T said this is good work to get to a better place, but i feel gross and disgusting ALL. THE. TIME.

I want to ask her, to ask everyone — do you even know what happened to me?
It’s all so ugly and i’m swimming in it every day, all day. It was bad enough to watch it from the corner of the room. Now i feel it in my body. It’s terrible and revolting. I can smell it. I can’t smell anything else right now. The stink of it is all over me and my girl parts hurt. I want to be invisible and i want everyone to see me at the same time. This doesn’t make sense, i know. I’m so smart but i cannot understand this.
I want to shake everyone.
Do you know what happened to me?
It’s not a book or a movie. It’s not fiction. It’s not terribly romantic and poetic.
It’s vile and evil and it’s in my bones and i can’t see anything else right now.

I want to be good and a sign that you can survive bad things, but today i am lost and drowning and just so very tired of it all. How could she do this? HOW COULD SHE? She was my MOTHER. My. mother. And i’ve had to walk away from my entire family. I’ve lost everyone. And i was the one who was raped.
This is why i don’t write when i fall down a hole.
This isn’t helpful.
I’m so sorry, i’m just so broken.
Days like these i despair that i can ever get past this.

Okay, so pull something good out of this.
I’m alive, and that’s good. I survived the unsurvivable, and that makes me kind of amazing. My brain did a thing that saved my life.
It turned everything into a movie i was watching and then it tucked all the pictures into little dream pockets. It waited for the day when i watched and knew the truth. It kept it all safe and technicolor until i found someone to help us.
She’s so calm and she talks science to me because that’s my language.
She tells me it’s going to take moremoremore time. And i hang up and cry.
Please, do you even know what happened to me?
I can’t see this, feel this, smell this, one more bloody day.

I’m sorry. I’m down a hole.
This is how my brain works.
It’s amazing and awful.

People Aren’t Puppets

WARNING: This post contains some description of childhood physical abuse.

Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.
~ Madeline L’Engle


Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the behaviour or perception of others through indirect, deceptive, or underhanded tactics.

My mother could play people like Strauss played the violin. Well, she could play some people. Looking back, i can see there were some giving her a wide berth. I’m gonna guess she had a toxic stink on her for those self-aware enough. Once we moved out of the city and began living a throwaway life in various small towns, things steadily changed. Her sick was beginning to show. It started when she picked up a stray boy to do her bidding. He was 14, and she was 32. It’s hard to maintain your mini-guru status when you’re sexually assaulting someone on the regular. Even if we mightn’t have called it what it was back then (and that’s what it was), it made others intensely uncomfortable and outright disgusted. Isolated and mostly alone in a trailer park at the edge of town, she gained weight and lost all her friends.

Once she had the boy firmly under her thumb (he moved in with us when he was 15), she began squirting out babies every couple of years. She put on pregnancy weight and it never came off. She stopped cleaning her house. She stopped cleaning herself. I’d like to think it was guilt over the past, but i think it far more likely that her monstrousness had become too much for her to handle. She was consuming herself from the inside. Eating her own poison caused her to become bloated and bilious on the outside. She looked wrong, she smelled wrong – on a psychic level. From then on the only card she had to play was pity. She still caught a number of unfortunates in her web, but it was far fewer, and they never stuck around for long. Her mask slipped quite regularly. She’d mostly cut off contact with me before she died, but at her funeral i saw she’d been enjoying quite the resurgence of her sick and sticky influence. She was in a 12-step program and had joined a church – perfect places for a 600lb tumour of a human to bang her pity drum and have a parade behind her. They wept into their tissues as they told me how much she meant to them.

They’ll never know how fortunate they are that she died. She would have taken whatever they’d give her, and then cut them to ribbons on her way out.

I’d watched her manipulate people my whole life, although i didn’t see it for what it was, back then. That was just how we did things at my house. We hid our true selves from the outside world. Other people wouldn’t, couldn’t understand our ways – we were too intelligent, too evolved, psychically, spiritually, intellectually. We were on a higher level. As soon as someone’s back was turned or was out of earshot, my mother had nothing nice to say about them. I watched her smile and charm her way through single motherhood in the big city. I watched her hold her own with large groups of professors and grad students. And then parts of me watched her behaviour when we were alone at home. Her emotional meltdowns, her beating and starving me, her renting me out for money, gifts, favours, and the attention of 1 particular man.

I watched her deftly handle teachers in interviews, blaming me for every issue that was brought up. I watched her charm my friends at sleepovers or car rides or at school functions. She could ease them past their fear and disgust over her size in mere minutes. Connecting with fellow students years later they’d ask after her, Hey, how’s your mom? She was always so cool. When i’d tell them she died young, they were so sad for me.

I watched her in therapy sessions. With me as a kid and her riding shotgun, with both of us through churches and government run agencies. She’d seek help for me, and it’d always end up being about her. She’d been abused as a child and now she had this troubled daughter who couldn’t sleep and wasn’t getting high enough marks at school and was struggling socially. How she was doing everything in her power and availing herself of every opportunity, and i was still such a problem. I was stubborn, i was a compulsive liar, i never did my homework… How was she supposed to cope with all of that AND make a living? She had them nodding sympathetically and eating out of her hand in 20mins or less. She knew all the buzzwords and dog whistles and they lapped it up. Meanwhile, if my performance hadn’t been spot on, when we got home she’d beat the crap out of me. Sometimes she’d be so mad she couldn’t wait until we got home and would beat me in the car. She bounced my head off the dashboard so hard once, that it cracked. She’d point out the crack occasionally, just by way of reminder to behave or else.

I watched and i learned and i behaved.

All this to bring it back to what i’m dealing with today. Today i know how to manipulate people to get what i want. To read them, to know their currency and their weaknesses and through that knowledge, get my needs met. In the distant past, i can see where i did work people to get their acceptance, but it was an unconscious thing. I’d been taught to figure out what people wanted and give it to them. I’d been taught to blend into the group, chameleon-like. I wasn’t purposefully disingenuous. And i was never on the grift, like her. I never took anyone’s money. I never paraded myself, my past, or my children for cash, or gifts, or help of any kind. I hid my need from others. I only ever had a couple of friends who knew when i was down and out, and they had to force me to take their help (they were generous and kind to do that, i know).

I don’t socialise much anymore, and almost never in big groups, so i don’t have to worry about my must-fit-in programming so much. I have a few friends i can be myself with – or at least practise being myself. I thought my manipulative days were behind me.
Frank and intensive introspection has recently shown me that that isn’t the case.

The manipulation was subtle, embedded in care-based action. First, it starts with my children. I finally became aware of it with my youngest. He’s grown but is still at home for now. He has some serious issues that he needs safety and space to work out, and we’re glad to provide for him. Some if not all of them, can be traced back to being born to and raised with, a survivor of severe trauma who has multiple mental health diagnoses. As i’m working on my own stuff, i watch him work on his, and i think back to when he was in school. I see his struggles in various areas, and i see me trying to get him the help he needed. I attend meetings, so many meetings. Meetings they called, meetings i called. Taking him for tests and more tests. Trying this, trying that, nothing working, constant fretting, so much emotion, so much stress. And today i see how much of it could have been avoided, if i hadn’t been unconsciously manipulating things to get the outcome >>i<< wanted. I wanted him to do things and be things in his life that he wasn’t necessarily interested in. I hung my own unfulfilled hopes and dreams on him. I compounded his stress and anxiety.
Tough pill to swallow, but it’s mine to take.
This led to some insight into other areas where i’ve been trying to make others do what i want.

I’ve written about my crappy parenting and how i’ve apologised to my boys and they all forgive me and still love me. I’ve gone on about how i’ve offered myself to them for therapy – both to pay for it, and be present at any session they’d want. But what i didn’t see was how i apologise too often – i bring it up too much. And the uncomfortable truth of it is that i want them to make what i did okay for me. I want THEM to fix MY feelings. I want them to go to therapy and be mad at me so that i can feel more at peace. I know i don’t get to tell them how to handle their past, but i was missing the selfishness that was enmeshed in the best of intentions.

Which brings me to my husband. Same thing. I wanted him to get help for his past because i thought it was the right thing to do. Our marriage had serious problems and i decided how we should handle it. I decided that because i was wallowing around in my shit that he should, too. I was reminded of the time i forced him to tell his mother he wasn’t religious. She didn’t need to know and he didn’t want to tell her. I was religious at the time and i just decided that it was the “right” thing to do. Truth is, i think i wanted to punish him for not coming along into my religious beliefs/community. Ugh. What a shitty thing to do. It was manipulative, pure and simple.

Just like trying to force him into therapy. In my defense, i truly believed i was doing the right, good thing. I wanted to help. I wanted everyone to be happy and healthy and for us all to get along. What i didn’t see or understand, was that i was trying to manipulate others into MY vision of what happy/healthy looks like, and force those i love into employing MY ideas for how we get there.
None of them have to deal with their trauma at all, let alone in the way i’m dealing with mine. There are many out there in the world who shut it down and put it away. They don’t talk about it, they don’t get therapy, and they have the life they want. Or they don’t have the life they want. Either way, it’s their choice. Their quality of life or lack thereof, is none of my business, and that includes those closest to me that i love.

It’s humbling, to be sure, but i’ve been mulling this over for a few weeks now, and the sting has gone out of it. It’s just the truth, and i am a truth-seeker. I’d rather know than not know. Even if it hurts. Even if i have to look at ugly parts of myself and take responsibility.
What i know today is that i will show up for my family whenever and however they want me to — IF they want me to.
And that may never happen.
And i’m just gonna have to sit with the uncomfortability that comes from not being able to FIX everything so that >>i<< can feel better.

Man, growing up sucks sometimes.
Still totally worth doing.
I’m gonna keep at it.

Hope y’all are hanging in there as best you can.
I’m still here, so i’ve got that goin’ for me.
Heh.

Love and Peace,
~H~

The Ace Up Her Sleeve

I don’t know if I can open up
I’ve been opened enough
I don’t know if I can open up
I’m not a birthday present
~ Marilyn Manson, Mephistopheles of Los Angeles

So that happened…
I have a scheduled phone therapy sesh at 2 today.
It’s 8 and i’ve already lost time.
When i come back to the face i always check around me to see what i can figure out about what happened while i wasn’t there, and to assess any damage. Over the years, i’ve become quite the sleuth.

I wish i could describe what it’s like to come back from various levels of dissociation, but it’s difficult. After a mild dissociation, i’m lightheaded, like i almost fainted, but didn’t. Coming back from a slide, where i’m there, but helplessly watching what’s happening around me from a distance, is like a carnival ride… sort of. There’s internal, psychic gravity involved. When the elevator lurches and you feel it in your belly? It’s akin to that. Returning from a full switch is much harder to define. Part waking up, part falling and hitting the ground, part walking out of a smoke-filled room, part amyl nitrate popper, cracked and inhaled. Out of the 3, it’s violent and deeply unsettling. Like being punched unconscious by the school bully, and when you come to, you look up and see a crowd of your peers staring down at you.

The first thing i do when the awareness sets in that i’ve been gone, is i try to keep my face neutral. I don’t want to do the big blink, or have a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. This is number 1 due to shame, but it’s also a not unhealthy sense of self-preservation. I’ve been slammed back into the face while in some dangerous situations; places where i’m around people that are keen for an advantage over someone like me. Prey. And frankly, switching is private. The whole multiple thing, while over the past few years i’m more “out” about it, is deeply personal. Those who respect that are in my life. Those that look at me like i’m a puzzle or a party trick, are not. It’s been my experience that those types WILL play me like a Chinese finger puzzle if i let them.
So yeah, as unobtrusively as possible, i try to suss out what TF is going on.

This morning i fall into the face, and it’s not too bad – more like falling off my bike onto the grass rather than the asphalt. Still, it’s never pleasant. There’s a hitch in my gut, because i must always wonder if i’ve fucked up, and if so, how badly. I see that i’m fully dressed, and the siren starts to bleat when i look down and see i have my shoes on. Being dressed at 8am is one thing; having my shoes on and in the house (i come from a country where people don’t wear their shoes indoors) means i’ve at least tried to go for a walk. At this time my husband will be at work, so i can’t ask him. I look carefully out my bedroom door and see my son’s door is closed. I don’t want to ask him, but once he hears my door open, he comes out to check on me. UGH. He lets me know i was fighting with his dad, and i’d left the house. I hate that he knows, but he’s grown, and it’s better than if he wasn’t. I won’t lie to him at his age, not even by omission. I’m not going to give him a blow-by-blow, but if he asks me a question – i’ll tell him the truth.
He says everything’s okay, and i’m okay, and he and i are okay. That last part is because i constantly fret that i’ve upset him or we’re not on good terms.
I worry on the regular that i’ve enmeshed him with me.
All i have is that i’m willing to know and do what must be done.
For now, that involves hanging on until i can speak with the inimitable Ms T.

**********

When the session starts, i can feel my irritation. This is not at all uncommon. My system has always been varying levels of hostile towards my therapist. It doesn’t bother her. It bothers me, of course. I was trained to respect authority, but also hide all my business from them. Seems weird, but when you consider what my mother was doing to me, it makes total sense. Present as normal as possible, because what was happening was not at all normal, or right, or legal.
She asks how i’m doing, but quickly transitions into therapy.
That may sound weird, but let me explain: I’ve seen a LOT of therapists in my life. I mean, a lot a lot. I always knew something was wrong with me, although i didn’t know what. I always knew someone needed to help me, but i didn’t know who or how. Over the years, i’ve knocked on countless doors and sat in innumerable chairs. I’ve told my story so many times it was like a script i’d memorised. I don’t know if any of them wanted to help me –i’d like to imagine they all did– but no one had what i needed/was looking for.

I’ve been asked a thousand times, How are you doing? and it was bullshit, because it didn’t matter what i said. I could play their game or not, depending on how i felt or who was in charge that day. I know i sound smug and superior here, but let the chips fall where they may. I’d been in the system, barking in the yard for so long, that i could convince anyone to let me in. But no one offered me the bone i wanted. None of it was palatable. None of it or them, made me hungry or want to eat.

So when i met a therapist who not only didn’t ask for my history, but also knew i was a multiple and didn’t try to play with my brain, i felt the first pangs of hunger (HOPE) that i’d felt in years and years.
Today she asked me how i was doing, and after over 12yrs of knowing me, she’s very capable of quickly discerning the direction of our session and getting started. She doesn’t waste time, for which i’m grateful. At my age, i don’t have as much left as i’d like.

I’ve been stressed and overspent for countless months, but i’ve learned a couple of things and i want her to fix them. I want her to take the feelings of anguish and disgust away. I want her to wash away the filth.
She hears me, and tells me she wishes she could, but it doesn’t work that way.
I say, Okay, so you want me to use another word so you don’t feel so bad?
She calls me on my aggression; says what i said was kinda mean.
She’s right. It grounds me as well as i can be at that point.

She speaks to me in ways i can hear, using words i can understand. From the beginning i told her what i wanted and what i didn’t, who i was and who i wasn’t. It was only to the best of my ability at the time (how can it ever be anything else?), but it was clear from the jump that if anyone could help me, she could.
But the point is that she was always listening. She always heard me. She always gave me a platform – but not like a fucking analyst’s couch. If that’s what works for you, great! I don’t mean to say that can’t be effective, or any other kind of therapy. I’ve never said that any of those that i’d seen prior weren’t good and effective at their job and helped a lot of people… I’m just saying that, for whatever reason, they couldn’t help me (much).

What follows is private, but, it helps me. SHE helps me. She can help me because she first gained my trust, and then, MOST important of all, once she had that i LET her help me.
The shitty part of it is that she assures me that she’d expedite things if she could, but being a multiple, with my particular set of concerns, ensures that isn’t possible. She tells me it’s going to be slow, but based on our prior association, she’s sure i can do it.
I’m feeling grouchy, angry even, and very, very tired and small.

I’m ashamed of my moodiness, my bitchiness, with her. She tells me she doesn’t worry about any of my acting out behaviours (i’m synopsising to make my point).  She says, “H, i knew from the moment i started working with you that it was going to be okay, and i had nothing to worry about.”
(For background, she came to my home for therapy for years, because i couldn’t/wouldn’t have come to her.)
She said, I didn’t worry because i could see you had a code of ethics. I could see that you cared, above all, to be kind to others, and to not allow anyone to suffer as you’ve suffered. You are a good egg.

I get all weepy at this point.
Okay more weepy then. Pfft.
And then she asks me, How does that feel?
I’m like, Wut?
She digs in and asks again, How does it feel for me to say these things about you?
Um, good.
Why does it feel good, do you think?
Urk… Because you see me.
Yeeeeah! I do see you. I’ve known you a long time. And i trust you.

Then she tells me that’s what healing IS.
To be SEEN.
To be KNOWN.
And then to be loved and believed in and trusted following that.
Well, i’ll be good n’ goddamned.
Ms T always has an ace up her sleeve, and she knows when to play ’em.

**********

That was yesterday.
There was fallout; there always is for me after therapy. This time it wasn’t too bad, although the evening is gone. I didn’t go for a walk, and i’m not on a bender. I’ll take it.
A good thing has come from it already. A thing i desperately needed, and that’s sleep. My insomnia has reared its ugly and most unwelcome head this last week or so. I’d had around 6hrs sleep total in the last 5 or 6 days. I was on a razor’s edge emotionally, and my body was in that sleep-starved mode where it vibrates and you feel dizzy all the time. I hated my bed. I hated the approach of the night. For someone who’s as tightly wound as i am currently, i thought i didn’t have much torque left in me. Unfortunately, anxiety will always find a way.

I’d do my sleep preparation, and beyond that try not to think about it. Ha. Don’t think about the elephant standing behind you H, and definitely don’t look at it. Again i say, Ha. So i lie down and try to breathe deeply, and keep my mind as close to empty and calm as i can. My mind is never quiet like a non-multiple’s can be. I’ve never had a conscious minute in my life that didn’t have thoughts roiling around in this ole noggin of mine. But i’m trying not to think about the fact that i haven’t slept in days and i’m exhausted and OMGWHATIFICAN’TSLEEPTONIGHT?!! Usually, i start off thinking Hey, i feel pretty comfy, i think it just might happen! Then, around 20mins in my confidence begins to waver, as my need to change positions becomes stronger. I start to feel little electric pinpricks randomly, all over my body. So i shift, a little, not too much – don’t wanna trigger my restlessness. Then again i think, Okay, maybe… And then suddenly i don’t just have my eyes closed, i’m staring at the inside of my eyelids. My eyeballs immediately start to ache, and i know it’s all over.
I get up at this point because all i’ll do is thrash around, getting more and more frustrated and anxious until i’m so amped that the possibility of any sleep all night becomes impossible. I usually play a game on the computer for an hour and then try again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Lately though, it just wasn’t happening for me.

Cue therapy. I not only slept last night, i slept more this morning. I feel infinitely better. Less emotional, and more able to accomplish tasks.
So yeah, my post-therapy experiment starts tomorrow.
Feeling hopeful, but not too much. I don’t want to put expectations on myself that i might not be able to meet. It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. I’m just trying something new. Tweaking my program a little. It’s only an experiment, after which my support team and i will assess the data, and see where i go from there.

Life as me, man.
What a gig.

Love and Peace to All,
~H~

My Travelling Pants

When the pants you’ve been wearing for a week walk off the job in disgust, you may be having some issues.

Yeah, i joke, but i’ve been low functioning these last few months, and getting lower. Perhaps it’d be more accurate to state that my lows are getting lower. I still crawl outta that hole i fell in and get more functional for a time, but it’s still only marginally better than the hole. Before the pandemic hit my periods of better functioning were longer, and i would get closer to the level i was at when i first started this last bout of therapy nearly 2yrs ago.

I’m bipolar, and the best way i’ve found to cope with the manic side of me, is to take only very small, slow steps towards better functioning. It has been my overwhelming experience that going any faster only makes me fall flat on my face harder. Plus, it can trigger a mania – and my manias can last years and cause massive destruction. So i’m a baby-stepper. But babystepping isn’t helping me right now. I’m slipping lower and lower, every time i fall, and as i said, the falls are coming more frequently.

So, i’ve decided to change it up a bit. Just a small experiment, to see if it helps. I’m setting up parameters like length of time, and those who will be overseeing my work.
I’m going to try pushing a little harder.
Those of you who read my blog -especially those that know me personally- don’t freak out. It will be a 3-day trial following my phone therapy session with Ms T this week.

Sometimes shaking things up a bit is just the remedy.

I’m currently fighting a mania. If you aren’t aware, yes, lows can be a part of manic behaviour (and usually are, in some form or fashion). I’m going to feed it a bit of what it wants, but carefully, and strictly measured. No coke binges or booze benders, here. And the positive side of the pandemic is that my anxiety levels ensure that there’s no danger of suddenly becoming my old, social-butterfly self. Heh. What i’m talking about is positive accomplishments. I’m going to feed it some self-esteem.

I’ve worked hard to be okay with the way my brain works. Sometimes that means dialing things back to the bare minimums. I throw prepackaged foods in the oven and microwave to feed my family – or hubby brings home take away. If i can’t be arsed to get in the shower, well, maybe i can just get the pits n’ bits treatment, and splash some water on my face, leaving my usual, rather involved skin care regimen on the shelf for a day or 2 or 10. I ask my son and husband for help with household chores that i normally consider my domain (i’m a right prig about the laundry), and the upkeep of my kitchen is something i actually enjoy. When i ask though, i consciously let go of my need to have it all done a certain way. I also let go of the things i do for exercise, and we have low maintenance doggos, who don’t mind if i can’t walk them for a few days (they still get a bit of exercise around our yard – we live on a farm). I try to write what i can, but honestly, that’s usually the first thing that goes.
Once i start feeling better, i slowly add things back in.
This is a proven helpful and effective way to deal with life as me.

But it’s not working these last months, or better said, it’s not helping.
I’m gonna flip the script, briefly, and see what happens.
If my support system says No, i will advocate further, and probably fiercely. But in the end, if they cannot be swayed, then the trust is there for me to acquiesce.

After my session with my therapist, my plan is to either write, or immediately get on the treadmill if i’m feeling like taking off. (For those unfamiliar with this habit of mine: When i am triggered or feel overwhelmed, i will often dissociate and leave the house at top speed and hit our old country road for a walk towards the highway. Often, nothing good comes from that, and sometimes, very bad things happen.) After this initial absorbing of whatever has come up for me during our talk, i will decide what to do next, based on how i’m feeling, what i’m thinking, and what my body might be trying to tell me.

So, grok me:

– i will be the cooking the suppers,
– i will be washing the bod and the face on the regular,
– i will be doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen,
– i will be walking the doggos (they will be so happy!),
– i will be keeping up with both my writing and my reading.

I will be keeping the thing i do where i reward my accomplishments regularly with down time. Lots of futzing about on the computer, watching anime with my Kiddo and my current various streaming services series obsessions. I will stop for ice cream or chocolate or potatoes at my whim. And i will drop everything and call my husband or BFF or text Ms T if i sense or feel trouble.
It’ll just be for a few days, and then we’ll take stock. Me, my support system, and of course my precious Bits N’ Pieces. We’ll all have a say and then we’ll decide if i continue as is, maybe push a little harder, or if it would be best if i stopped.

Maybe my pants will forgive me and come back.

It’s time now for the show
Put on my makeup, away I go
I’ll say a prayer
That I will see you out there

So when the show is done
You’ll take my hand, away we’ll run
Along home, to make supper
~ Storm Large, Under You

The Toll of Anguish

I was gone again for a while. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t leave if i could help it, but my stores are empty and i’m functioning on will alone. And that has been worn thin. I know i write about the same things over and over. I intended that to a degree, but these days i’m balanced on the head of a pin, and my strength is nearly gone, and i must focus and push on however i can. My life is at stake, not to put too fine a point on it.

I nearly put the kibosh on it this week. The work was too much to begin with, and now to be in the thick of it during these times, well, if i believed in such things i would say the universe has the darkest and twistiest sense of humour of us all.
After crawling out of my cups, and getting a couple of days of perspective, i think i shall keep trying, after all. But i’ve got to kick up the honesty and the writing and the talkiness. I may be even less fun than i have been already. Heh.

I’ve got let it all in, stop trying so hard to control the flow.

So much has been rushing into me, all at once. I’m having pain, epiphanies, and painful epiphanies. It’s like i’m at the end of the river’s mouth. I’m constantly being filled and i can’t stop it, and it’s impossible to swallow it all. I’m being drowned and being cleansed.
And i try be put it poetically, to take the bite out of it.
And i try to put a positive spin on it as soon as i’m able.
And these things are not a lie.
But i’m not telling how awful it was, not really.
But i’m not telling the terrible price i paid to grow up with who i was born to.
But i’m not telling the darkness and loneliness that has been my lot for my life.
But most of all, i’m not telling about the toll of this constant anguish.

This reuniting of my body to my brain, to reconnect my thoughts, my emotions, and my physical sensations is not just the hardest, most exhausting work i’ve ever done.
It is the ugliest.
The worst part of it is i feel FILTHY. Every part of my body, every cell, feels coated with slime and evil. When i dissociated while being abused in my childhood, i literally disconnected from my thoughts, feelings, and my physical senses. From the atmosphere of the room: the smell, the smell of them and their sweat and putrid breath, the stink of their fear*, the oily, slick feel of the air itself, coating my skin. I don’t feel like i’m a filthy person, what i’m feeling is the filth that coated me as a child. Other people’s filth.
And now i’m willingly experiencing it.

It’s not like fully reliving it. I simply couldn’t, wouldn’t do that. It’s more like something one says they remember “like it happened yesterday”, only more intense. I’m not reliving my memories so much as i’m allowing/encouraging myself to connect with them. I am experiencing emotions and physical stuffs, but it isn’t like i’m back in a room with a certain man at a certain point in time. I’m not seeing my mother in my room, getting me prettied up for a “special weekend.” I’m remembering, and allowing the feelings to come, without dissociating. And they are coming. It seems like everything triggers a memory, for months upon months now.

I’m barely functional these days.
Some days all i can do is let my system cry as my husband holds me.
The only thing any of us can say is, It was bad. It was bad. It was sososo baaaad!
I need to let more of the tears out. I’ve been trying to control the flow out as well as the flow in, i suppose. I feel my system wants to do more than weep – they want to sob and wail and even scream.
I am deeply afraid of this, but i sense it must be done.

Today i am asking myself how long must this anguish last, and if i can truly affect it.
My husband is as tired as i am. My son is resigned. My friends are removed.
I’m currently fighting a mania, just to make it all extra.
Oh yeah, and then the world is going crazier than i am.
And that breaks me, too.

Today i’m hanging on by the proverbial thread, and deciding to keep working.
That may change in a heartbeat, but i can’t help that. This is all i have to work with.

Crawl into my ambulance, your pulse is getting weak
Reveal yourself all now to me, girl, while you’ve got the strength to speak
‘Cause they’re waiting for you at Bellevue with their oxygen masks
But I could give it all to you now, if only you could ask
And don’t call for your surgeon, even he says it’s too late
It’s not your lungs this time, it’s your heart that holds your fate
~ Bruce Springsteen, For You

*Yes, i say fear. Nearly all of them seemed afraid to me. The ones that weren’t were the worst, but none of them deserve to be on a spectrum.

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~

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.

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.