The Lovely Little Child On The Road

Then he flew away in flames
Did the False False Fly
From the lovely little child on the road
‘Twas the devil in disguise
Was the False False Fly’
Said the lovely little child on the road
~ Jane Siberry, False False Fly

It’s been suggested on probably dozens of occasions, by dozens of people who care about me, that i cut myself a break – that i’m too hard, too critical, too immovable on the subject of my own culpability. There are areas where they’re wrong, there are places from which those comments come that speak more of their care for me than any truth to what they’re saying, but still… I know that moderation is something that i must always work on, and that it’s in balance i’ve found the most peace and possibility for more and better.

In my therapy session today, Ms T touched on it, as well. She pointed out and reinforced how far i’ve come, how much progress i’ve made. It is a hard thing to hold inside me for any length of time. As i sit in front of this screen and bring these things to mind, i can see it, i know it, i feel it. However, once i step away from the keyboard and back into my world and its day-to-days, it slips from my mind and drips between my fingers. My palms are stained in blood red judgment and my mind is filled with the voices of those that would condemn me – both those i made and those made by others. And i’m haunted by the voices of those long gone; my mother mostly, dead 30yrs now, but also those who are only dead to my life: siblings, stepfamily, peers, church associates… All those save her have faded until i can barely hear them any more, and even then only occasionally. Her voice can still do battle with some of my most potent parts, or join with others that she and her gang of super-bastards created in me. Ms T thinks it’s the last gasp of the invaders, and my own creations are stepping forward in confidence and safety – or at least making a solid, though tentative attempt.

This process has caused some parts of me to revolt a bit, sliding back into old behaviours as i sit with the terror they imbue. I’m as patient as i can be with these parts/children of mine that live in my brain and clutter it up with their own personalities and accompanying issues. Today i think it’s a good thing i split myself up into more manageable pieces, because i have a barge load of issues. My mother threw me into a roiling, angry ocean with no life preserver. If i’d not been able to parse it out, i’d have sunk like a stone. I’d have either died literally, or the part of me that remembers who i am and carries the blueprint for putting me back together would have been forever lost.

I survived, but more than that, while i might struggle with what most find to be a less-than-average level of function (myself included), i am sort of incredible in very recognisable ways.
I’m not a super-bastard, like my mother and her cronies intended.
I’m not even a shitty person. Sure, i can, have, and will do shitty things sometimes, but i’m a good, decent, kind person. I still love humanity, too. They couldn’t take any of that from me. My nurture, particularly for the first 8yrs of my life, was diametrically opposed to my nature. I won’t speak to the scientific debate of such, one, because i’m not sufficiently educated, and 2, because this blog isn’t for that. While i work every day at being a critical thinker, being a multiple lands me in some contentious psychological territory. The way my brain works is strange and not yet well mapped out. So i’ve made a conscious and willful decision to lay those concerns down and just work with what i’ve got. All i know is what my brain does and how life looks for me; how i handle life and process it all.

**********

Some time ago, i posted a piece called I Am Amazing, which i’d completely forgotten until i started trying to write this. So… I’ve already done the work. I know the truth of it – i’m just not connected to it.
Yet.

This is life as me and this is why i blog.
I’m at least average intelligence. Ah, i think so, anyway (the older i get and the more i learn, the less i’m sure of that, though). I’ve been working on the problem of my fuckedupness for my entire adult life, and over the years i’ve accumulated a not-insignificant quantity of information in the field of psychology and mental illness. It’s very lay person in nature, lacking in history and the hard science bits to be sure, but i have a fairly good grasp of the soft science of it – at least until you enter the field of neuroscience (which is fascinating, and i have learned some from Ms T). But despite everything i know about myself, how i work, and how to figure out and deal with my shit – i can and do still get it twisted.

The best solution i’ve found is getting it all out, either talking, blogging, or often, both. I just reread that piece (I Am Amazing) and it’s exactly what i’ve been trying to do for the last few days. I’d sit down at the keyboard, bash away a bit, backspace it all, curse like a sailor, slap the Notebook closed, and go do something else. But the words were already there, and posted. I can see how far i’ve come when i give it a writer’s distance. In other words, i’m dissociated from it – i lack connection to the information. I can think it, but i don’t feel it. I am only now, in my 50s and after a dozen years of (excellent) therapy, moving away from my overriding belief about myself: If anyone knew the real me, they’d see how terrible i am, and leave me, angry and disgusted with what they saw.

I’ve wanted to believe that’s not true for many years now. I’ve leaned hard on the opinions of those i trust so i don’t break under the weight and pressure of looking at my past and my inner workings. Over the last year or so i’ve actually come to believe that it’s possible that i’m not awful, that i might be decent, kind – even lovable and perhaps worthwhile (there is a soupçon of sarcasm in that, but not nearly enough). But still i am lacking connection. There’s a space between what my mind can perceive and what i can tolerate feeling inside my body:
– acceptance and approval from others;
– acceptance and approval from myself;
– belief that i am enough;
– belief that i am worthy of the good in life;
– love from others;
– love of myself.

I was treated like a thing, like property growing up, yet even though i got away, i’ve continued to live my life like i’m spoilt. Forever ruined. Full of poison; ugly and rotten inside. I’ve never gotten away from it.
I think all this work is getting me to this crux. Do i let myself free fall into this? Do i trust that my parachute is functional and will bear me down to solid ground, where i’ll walk away and live as a new being in a new land? Because man, lemme tell you, i will be different and the world will be different, too. To live my life free of these toxic beliefs about myself would change no less than everything.

I have to talk about this, not just write. This is the thing, the problem, the monkey on my back, the cross i bear. Can i mend this broken connection, can i live out what i’m learning, can i feel what i feel while knowing what i know? Can i feel all the pain and betrayal and isolation of the past while knowing it wasn’t my fault and i’m still a good/nice/decent/kind person, that i’m not bad/gross/foul/despoiled? Can i believe that it broke me but didn’t destroy me? Do i have the inner and outer supports in place that i might risk that step out of the airplane?

Fuck if i know.
I’m pretty sure i’m gonna go for it. Soon. There is only so much babystepping i can do before i’m at the edge and it all comes down to a moment. I’ve been a doomsday prepper for my own life. Time for trust. Me, my partner, my therapist, my friends. Time to test the hypothesis. Am i going to live out I Am Amazing? Can i? Am i? There is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that these good things are true and these bad things are not. If i’m to be the critical thinker i’m striving so hard to be, mustn’t i now let go of old superstitions that were brainwashed and beaten into me, and wrong, harmful concepts that i embraced in order to survive my abusers? I already know intellectually that the abuse is over and i’m safe, and everything i’ve learned since i got away from them has taught me that they were liars, users, perverted opportunists, who took my need for love and care, and forged it into a weapon to use against me. The thing of it is that, even once i was free of them, the weapon passed to my hand and i continued the woundings, bloodletting because that’s what i was taught. No one’s asking or expecting me to martyr myself anymore. Those who would are either dead or out of my life. There is no cause, no god to die for. It’s well past time to lay the weapon down.

Well, this went in a direction i wasn’t expecting. Just life as a highly dissociative human seeking homeostasis and happiness, yee haw.
Stay tuned. I’m never boring – so i’ve got that going for me.*

I’ve struggled harder than usual with this post. Discovering i’d done the work a while back was a shock. You’d think i’d be used to losing time, and of course i am, but it’s still a psychic slap in the face. Fading, sliding, and switching is not fun. It’s not cool. It’s not like the tropes you see in tv and movies (don’t even get me started… that’s a post full of hurt and rage, and i’m not about that right now). It’s jarring and frightening and disrupting. It steals memories from me and puts distance between me and those i love. It saved my life a long time ago, but now it is a roadblock to me having the life i want.
I already did the work and i didn’t remember.

**********

I slept on this before deciding whether or not to post it. Much of what i write, especially lately, doesn’t make the cut. I’ve been trying to write when i’m in a dissociative state, to maybe get a better handle on things. Understand more. Gain more control. But it’s not fit to read. It doesn’t add to what this blog is, basically because it’s meandering, rambley, often ranty, and occasionally unsettling. I’ve been bashing away at this post for an entire week, which is unlike me. Once i know what i’m writing about, things generally flow. When i struggle this hard, i’ve taken it as a sign that i’m not ready for the subject matter, or i’m off base with the whole concept. I leave them in my drafts for a while, for consideration, but i’ve always ended up trashing them.

I’m not sure if this post will make any sense to anyone but me. I can see that i’m trying to connect with myself. I’m reaching out for my own hand, searching inside myself for pathways home. In a way, i dispersed myself inside my own brain, where i dwelt in foreign lands until i could return safely. This work is to gather all my bits together and be more cohesive, more functional, more useful, more involved with the world and engaged with its other inhabitants. I don’t think it will ever be what some professionals call “integration,” but i hope to emerge from the fog that i’ve been in my entire life. I hope to embrace the things that i wrote in I Am Amazing; to bring it home to live with me like my system and my physical body.

I’ll close with a quote from the inimitable Bukowski:

Poetry says too much in too short a time; prose says too little and takes too long.

If you made it this far, thank you.
If you got anything out of it, all the better.

Try to be as good as you can to yourself this week, and i will do the same.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*My hubs and kid might disagree. Heh.

IMAGE: Timothy Eberly



Detox

Warning: Discussion of body reaction to heavy drinking, including detoxification. Includes body function talk, e.g. toileting, vomiting, and menstruation.

NOTE: This is merely a description of what i go through getting off the sauce. Do NOT do this. It isn’t a step-by-step method. Detoxification from alcohol/drugs should be done under a doctor’s or other accredited professional’s care, at a hospital or other detox facility. I’ve gone to the ER for IV fluids and other care on numerous occasions, and wouldn’t hesitate to go again.

In the past, over time, i’ve learned to share about when i fall. It started out as vague references couched in romantic metaphors, and has progressed to full disclosure about what falling can mean in my life. Among other things, it can mean i lose control to a full switch for a significant period of time. It can mean i engage in any number of destructive behaviours. These have involved things like hitchhiking into the city (i live on a farm more than 30mins away), partying and its ubiquitous drug and alcohol use, which can and has resulted in stays in the “psych ward”, and the involvement of law enforcement. As i’ve improved, the higher risk stuff has disappeared, but taking off, and drug and alcohol* use, can still occur.

Lately, therapy + world events = my anxiety being at a near fever pitch, which means i can experience a hard switch that i cannot control. Well, that’s somewhat redundant, because i can’t control a switch at all. Therapy has me so vulnerable, that i can lose the face before the end of a session. Even long after, i remain raw and easily triggered. My Bits N’ Pieces are either terrified and totally flipping out, or i’ve done enough work that they’re beginning to feel safe in my environment and are asserting themselves a bit more. Understand that i’m not saying it’s one or the other – i’m saying it’s both, it just depends on which part we’re dealing with. They’re not a fun time right now. Everyone is stirred up and i’m losing my grip.

I’m fine for a week or 2, and then BAM, the next thing i know i have a raging hangover and must figure out what the damage is. They crawl into a bottle for a number of reasons: it was used in abuse scenarios, it made social interaction easier in my late teens, and it made consensual sexual encounters as a young adult tolerable. During all those times drinking was not a problem. It became a problem when i first became fully manic in my late 30s. It seemed like that’s when the levee broke, and everything and everyone came flooding out. I’d begun drinking heavily when the mania first started, while i worked a job that had me mostly in various bars. It progressed to the point where i lost my job, lost my oldest son to emancipation, was forcibly committed on more than one occasion, in a detox facility twice, in long term rehab once, and spent a few weeks in an actual mental hospital. At that time, i was completely at the mercy of my system and the mania. They conspired to break me, utterly.

Years and lots of stories that i’ve already told later (like this one, but it’d be hard to read everything, and this is relevant), i’m doing far better than probably most people thought i would. But after a few years of being out of therapy and thinking i was fine, i found out there was more work to do, and that it was the hardest work. It’s exacerbated drinking behaviours, as i once again struggle to manage and control the people who live in my brain. These people who’d all been born by the time i was 10, most of whom masquerade as being older than that.

I’ve been finally, and fully honest about that here, but i haven’t said much about the part where i crawl out of the hole i’d fallen into. I haven’t because it’s ugly, and very, very embarrassing. However, one should know all of it that i can tell. You should have the clearest picture of how dark and far down i’ve been, and how hard i still struggle today. In the truth lies hope, and i know well and surely that it is hope that i offer here. It’s all i have to give the world, and after so many years of contributing little, my love of humanity compels me to do what i can, until i can do more, and then do that, too. I assure you that i aim to.

So we are on to the ugly bits now. This may be full of TMI for some, so a second warning here.

The first thing to know is, while my system is out and very active during a bender, i am not. It’s like blackout drinking, except i wasn’t even there to get to the blackout stage in the first place. The second thing to know/understand, is that they can drink a LOT. My husband and son have both related to me how this can look. They’re dealing with 1 particular part who is clearly drunk; stumbling, slurred speech, etc., and then i’ll switch to another part and will immediately present as sober; the prior symptoms being gone, and i’m speaking and moving without difficulty. They can hand off to each other like this for days, but when my body has had enough and begins to become the primary, unavoidable concern, here is the third thing to know: the little buggers always ditch the party, and leave me holding the bag.

I know immediately something’s been going on upon waking. Sometimes waking is the regular kind, sometimes it’s being slammed back into the face by a part that doesn’t want to handle what’s going on for me, physically. I’ll have a raging headache and my guts will feel like they’ve been the ball in a game of rugby. I’ve the physical certainty that “we’re done here”, coupled with the mental experience of my system hiding in my brain. I hear whispers and soft crying – they know we can’t go any further. There’ve also been occasions where i’m thrust back in the primary position because they’ve gotten me into some trouble they’re either afraid to deal with, or think i’m the only one who can, say, an argument, destruction of property**, or damage to the body**.

I know what’s coming, and brace myself – although there’s nothing to be done but survive the process.
Despite the already terrible state of withdrawal beginning, i usually still feel that buzzy-numbness of being drunk. I know i can’t take anything for my symptoms yet, lest i fall asleep/pass out while my breathing and heart rate drop too low. It’s not that acetominophen raises one’s heart rate, it’s that i can become comfortable enough to fall asleep. (See: My Fear of Dying, coming soon!) If i’m not in bed, i go there.

There, my headache will increase, and then will come the worst –and it won’t leave me for days– nausea. I learned from a doctor years ago, that i likely carry a genetic trait for severe nausea. I’m inclined to believe him. Like one of my sons once remarked, “For someone who hates puking as much as you do, you sure do it a lot.”
In this case i won’t be puking though, and the truth is i almost never do, technically speaking. I retch. Almost nothing will ever come out of me, due to a history of childhood abuse and bingeing/purging. In other words, vomiting during abuse resulted in more abuse, and one of the ways the abuse manifested in later years was to eat until i was physically sick to my stomach.

So the retching has begun, which takes my kicked and punched entrails, and wrings them like a wet dishrag, repeatedly. At some point my heart rate will begin to rise, and so i take some acetominophen and diphenhydramine. The latter never works to suppress the nausea, but it can aid in getting me some sleep. I try because that will soon become impossible. I sleep as much as i can before my body begins removing the poison i’ve put into it. When that happens, i’ll be pissing razor blades and shit for around 12hrs. All while retching my guts into a nearly paralysed state. So i sip as much water as i can – once my guts shut down, there will be no food or water for anywhere from 12hrs, to a full day (for water, food can go longer).

Now i’m sweating: i soak my clothes and the sheets and anyone close to me, i.e. my husband and my dog. I’m alternately hot and then cold. There is no comfortable position; i shift from laying positions, to semi-sitting ones. My back aches and my head feels like it’s being crushed, the base of my skull as if it’s being ground to powder. I feel like i’m going through a rough period, literally. Back when i did menstruate, one could start. I feel as if i’m being filled with cement that’s slowly hardening, except when i must use the washroom, which is frequently. Then, my legs have trouble supporting me and getting me there. Urination has ended but the other isn’t done with me yet. I’m becoming severely dehydrated, with scratchy eyeballs, an itchy, sticky throat, and numb hands and feet. I get random stabbing pains that feel electric.

I want to sleep, but now anxiety manifests in the form of fear of death. I’m gripped by it. I know it’s a part of the process, and that i’m still here so far, but i also know that i’ve repeatedly taxed my body way past what is reasonable or healthy. Now there is no laying, only sitting up as straight as i can. I try to distract myself with mindless games and videos online. Every muscle cries out, my organs feel like stones. My brain feels as if it may explode; the band across my forehead so tight my skull may crack. If it’s daytime, i see movement out of the corners of my eyes. If it’s nighttime, i see figures in the blackness of the room, and behind my eyelids. There are whispery, skittish breaths across my flesh.
These are not full-on DTs, but i would guess they’re similar, if not a precursor.

No food, no water, no sleep, only anxiety and pain. Time passes with excruciating slowness and i sit with it, knowing i deserve it all (i know i do and i don’t, this is just my mindset at the time). My thoughts are drawn inexorably towards all my failures and shortcomings. I’m coated in a foul slick of hopelessness. I feel heavy with despair and shame. At some point my legs start working better, and my body scrapes me out and gets rid of everything. I now notice how very badly i need a shower, but i still can’t stand for long enough to get it done. No, not even 5mins with a bar of soap.
I take acetominophen where i dare, but now it hurts my insides, so only 1 at a time. Two caplets burns (stomach acid) like heck, so i stagger them. Diphenhydramine is not an option. I’m afraid if i go to sleep, i won’t wake up.

After 24hrs, things are usually improving a little, and i begin to drink a bit of water.

The final stages:
– everything tastes like crap, even water;
– thickly chapped lips;
– canker sores on my tongue.

The headache lasts for at least a week.
The nausea comes and goes.
I want to eat compulsively.
At least 1 or 2 days of insomnia.
Three days to 1 week to get back to normal energy/functioning levels.

I’ve only been struggling with this since i started back at therapy 2yrs ago. It’s frightening, dangerous behaviour and i know it. I’ve been working hard for my betterment #1, but also because i know that at my age, my body can’t tolerate much of this, or for long. I’ve stopped every self-destructive habit i’ve ever had, and this one will be no different. I’m no longer abusive, nor do i put others in harm’s way. There’s a process by which my brain figures stuff out. For a long time there had to be general consensus to lay something down or stop it. Now it comes down to me – if i say it’s done, it’s bloody done.
The realisation that the impetus is on me has been a sobering one, in this case especially.
<go ahead and snort – i did>

Yes, i realise there are people, places, and programs out there designed to help this specific problem. I have worked them and sought the receipt of their promises as hard as i sought those offered by religion. If i am, as some claim, “terminally unique”, it will not be from lack of trying or a desire to let go. I am a woman with a particular set of skills that make it difficult to function with the rest of the world on its terms, but i am doing my damnedest.

While there has been a disconcerting return to some undesireable actions while i flop around trying to find my legs out of this psychic primordial ooze, it hasn’t all been about a loss of control. I think some of it comes from trusting myself and freeing myself from the shame that’s followed me for my whole life, like Pigpen’s cloud in the Peanuts comic strip. When i learn something in therapy (like when i learned shame is my body asking for human connection), there comes a time when the rubber meets the road. This may be one of those times, i’m not sure. I am sure i’ll do my best, and if i fall down another hole, no matter what is entailed, i’ll crawl out again.

I watch myself from the inside and from the outside. I provide constant inner commentary on my own life. I see the thing that i was and am, and am becoming. And i have much to say about it all. Maybe it’s worth sharing, but perhaps not. Then i think of that stupid, wonderful starfish, and i know that >>i<< am the starfish. And i am the one who tosses the starfish. I am also the beach and the ocean, and the one who asks why any of it matters.
So i write about drinking to excess and retching and piss and shit and blood and tears.
I write it all out to live.
I write it all out because it seems to be helping.
I write it all out because i must.
And i have a lot ot say about that, too.

So, while i am indeed sorry for the TMI, it was starting to feel like i was hiding/avoiding, so i blogged it. Life as me and all that.

I’m an innocent victim of a blinded alley
And I’m tired of all these soldiers here
No one speaks English, and every thing’s broken
And my Stacy’s are soaking wet
~Tom Waits, Tom Traubert’s Blues

Have as good a weekend as you’re able, and so will i.
Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. The 2 dreams i was going to write about won’t be happening… I waited too long and now they’re gone but for wee snippets. Ah well, lesson learned.

*I know alcohol is a drug, but find the distinction an important one.
** With the exception of a few weeks ago, these haven’t happened in many years.

IMAGE: Melodie Wasser

Robinson Robinson?

Robinson Crusoe doesn’t quite fit, nor does Swiss Family Robinson.
But they get close enough.
To get where i’m coming from, i’ll include an exerpt from my recent social media post:

As many of you know who read my blog, i’ve been in the most intensive therapy of my life. The goal is to strip me down of all my harmful/distancing coping mechanisms (i.e. dissociation), and experience my life fully present and in the moment.

The issue is that i’m exhausted, and the vulnerability this brings is beyond terrifying to me. I’ve lived my life at some level of dissociation since i was a baby. I’ve missed out on so much because i wasn’t there. These last 2yrs have been nothing short of brutal, but i can and will do it.

The problem is – the world is breaking me. I’m becoming pessimistic and misanthropic. I didn’t strip myself down to find this soft and tender heart inside, one that i’m beginning to know and love, only to have politics and current events smash it to smithereens. I won’t let that happen.

To that end, i am cutting out EVERYTHING in the outside world. I’m going to be filling myself with only lovely and uplifting things (outside of my therapy).

In all my online interactions, i sometimes leave and then come back for a bit and then do it again. I keep getting sucked into things that, while i care deeply about them, i do not currently have the spoons to handle. I only have enough for me right now.

But my family deserves a better functioning human, and so does my community. I am going to be buckling up and knuckling down, and getting this shit done, and when i come back…

I will be better. More involved, more helpful, more truly interactive. I will be in the face, and i will be better able to be there for friends and family.

**********

I will still be reading blogs, but if it involves commentary on politics and/or current events, i’ll be ducking out. I intend to return to these things because they matter to me, and i care. I just need to nope all of that for a while. I’m still here for poems and musings, and even a bit of personal trauma and pain.
On the days that i can.
On the days i need to not be alone in all this.
I’m here for the past and the future, just not the present outside of my own little island and my day-to-days. One day, my little boat will be built, and i will sail back to the mainland.

My next post will be a bit on the TMI side, just a heads up (re: detoxing).
Or maybe i’ll write down 1 or 2 dreams that deserve a looksee.
Or, i’ve been reading a lot of Bukowski and might be inspired to try to be gum on the bottom of one his boots that were 3 sizes too small.
Heh.

Thanks for reading.
Hang in there everyone, as best you can.
I’m doin’ what i gotta do.
I hope you’re able to as well.
Love and Peace,
~H~

in my hand is the last bluebird.
the shades roar like lions and the walls
rattle, dance above my
head.
the eyes look at me, love breaks my
bones and I
laugh.
Fingernails; Nostrils; Shoelaces, Charles Bukowski


IMAGE: Sergio Jara

Uncomfortability


WARNING: Contains a light discussion of the controversial nature of DID and repressed memories.

Yes, it’s not really a word, but i Frankenstein the English language on the regular. It’s my style, man.

uncomfortable:
adj. Experiencing physical discomfort.
adj. Ill at ease; uneasy.
adj. Causing anxiety; disquieting.


Therefore in my world, “uncomfortability” is the ability to function while living and dealing with being uncomfortable. I’ve been doing this since at least first grade. I hadn’t had all that many healthy interactions with other children when i started attending school. No kindergarten for me, and i had 1 friend -a boy 1yr younger than i– who had the same babysitter. We saw each other every weekday and were very close. One of my mother’s friends socialised me with her nephews a couple of times a year, and i loved being with them. Other than that, any interaction with other children was either stilted*, or it was based on abuse.**

My mother prided herself on my precociousness in a group. Adults would compliment her on my etiquette and exemplary behaviour. I was raised by adult television shows and sitting quietly around her intellectual friends from university, so i had a level of sophistication that most children my age did not. I also had a maternal grandmother who was a schoolteacher, and she taught me to read and write fluently by the age of 4. My mother talked to me like i was an adult, and expected me to do a lot of the cooking and most of the cleaning, so yeah, precocious fits, i suppose. I’d describe me as not knowing how to be a child, and completely unequipped to be an adult.

No wonder my exchanges with other children were stilted. As soon as i started talking to them, i knew i was doing something wrong. I could sense in their reactions that i made them uncomfortable, sometimes i even freaked them right out. I learned to stand on the outskirts and watch. Various teachers would comment, both in my report cards, and back in the very early days when she could be arsed to attend p/t interviews, that i was alternately awkward and uninvolved, or too chatty and bossy. I desperately wanted to be liked and fit in somewhere, but i never quite did. I was usually able to find 1 or 2 mid-popularity level, nice kids, who would tolerate me without complaint. That constant sense of discomfort, and my intuitive feeling that i made my peers uncomfortable, contributed to the dissociative fog i went through school in, and my ability to weather feeling uncomfortable all. the. time.

All this backstory for me to say that i’m in the thick of it today. To find that i’d actually repressed a memory has me upset and extremely uncomfortable.

Guess what? A bit more backstory. Heh.

As i’ve stated, i fought the diagnosis of MPD/DID until my late 20s. I was raised to disbelieve it, and any of my dissociative behaviours that came out in front of my mother outside of when i was being actively abused, or putting on the kind of show she expected of me in front of others (which depended on who they were), was met with derision, anger, and violent physicality. I hid it from myself to keep me safe, and it was so ingrained in me that i couldn’t be around anyone who said they had it, or continue seeing any therapist or counsellor who even suggested it. It made my skin crawl; i was so uncomfortable around the topic i had to get away from whatever source it was coming from, and dissociate from the experience immediately.

Cue 3 events:
1) A multiple woman appearing on a daytime talk show that triggered me on such a deep level i couldn’t tear my eyes away from her interview. I went straight out and bought her book, devoured it in a day, and couldn’t stop thinking about it/her;

2) A counsellor (social worker) i was seeing through my church told me it was her belief that i was a multiple. I wouldn’t leave the office in her case because i was well-trained to obey church elders. She brought in a fellow member who was a psychologist, and she gently confirmed my counsellor’s diagnosis;

3) I was in a safe and loving relationship, so much so that all my issues were bubbling to the surface and i was having difficulty stuffing them back down.

In other words, i became vulnerable to the truth. Some of my walls had come down due to being in love, others because i was terrified of being in love, which in turn depleted my energy, leaving me without enough spoons to be a wife and a mother living with chronic pain and mental health issues, AND maintain all my defenses.

I knew they were correct, but my programming goes deep. There were parts of my system designed to hide this knowledge, and denydenydenyandgetTFaway if it ever came up. I was finally willing to explore the possibility, but it was hard to get around the roadblocks put up by my system, and my childhood brainwashing.***

For a couple of years, i told myself that i wasn’t multiple, that my brain just worked similarly.
Then i left religion, lost a bunch of weight, and was diagnosed bipolar. It was in a mania that my Bits N’ Pieces began making themselves known. When i finally found the lovely and talented Ms T over 12yrs ago, i had to deal with hard nope/cringe/skin-crawl crap all over again. In some ways it was harder, because my last counsellor’s recipe for health involved a lot of laying on of hands (which icked me out and traumatised me), and casting out my demons. Yeah, you read that right. She believed in MPD/DID, was a clinical social worker, and thought i was possessed.****
So yeah, more trauma and roadblocks to get over.

I found my way out of it all when i realised that some of my dreams were actually memories. It was like a golden ticket for me. I thought most multiples were faking it because that’s what was drilled into me (it’s not my business now), and some people’s claims have been scientifically debunked. I didn’t believe their stories (again, programming), either. Outlandish, i thought; way over the top. And there was the “Satanic Panic.” Plus, there were many jumping on the “False Memory Syndrome” bandwagon. I could see that some (i stress SOME) of what the nay side were saying was true, i.e. some people were either outright lying or had been manipulated (whether intentionally or unintentionally) by their mental health care professionals.

Realising i remembered everything, i just hadn’t made the connection that it was real – saved me from all that, in my own mind. I could skip it all. Everything was flowing and falling into place and so much of my life and my struggles and issues were finally making sense.
But i didn’t dream about my “Daddy’s” son molesting me. It popped right out of me when i began tapping away on the keyboard, and i can see how some of my dreams could be interpreted as having to do with it (of course the Dream #2 that i analysed), but i didn’t remember it. I didn’t have a dream of the events that was actually a memory.

Now i feel the distance that i’d tried so hard to put between myself and controversy, is closing in on me. I have been toppled from my mountaintop and hoisted by my own petard.
It’s a good thing, in the way that superiority, some arrogance, not a small amount of fear, and a dollop of pedantry were involved in how i overcame my aversion to dealing with my multiplicity. It’s good not to be a shitty person looking down on others. I can see that i dealt with the problem like my mother might have, using incorrect and immoral principles that she’d taught me.
I’m not sorry that i got called out by myself on my own crap. I welcome that kind of lesson in my life.
It’s been a long time since i judged another multiple. Many years. Not my business. Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

Starting this blog led to me being a bit more open in my real life dealings, about being a multiple. I mention being mentally ill most, then bipolar, and occasionally now, being diagnosed DID. My family and friends know, and i can joke about it or refer to it on my social media, and it’s what my blog is mostly about. That’s growth. The controversies surrounding the diagnosis and how memories work and if they can be repressed is an active and volatile one. Many professionals work actively to prevent it from being included in the next diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.

This has me, someone who considers herself a skeptic, who embraces rational, critical thinking, in a bit of a pickle.

I’m also feeling extra anxiety and stress because, if i have 1 repressed memory, i may very well have others.

As i’ve been stewing over this since last week, i have come up with a couple of thoughts that help me cope:
– there are skeptics that fall on both sides of these issues, and many more who reserve judgment;
– it doesn’t matter if it really happened or not, there is still more than enough provable, long term traumas that i remembered all along, to warrant my splitting off and disconnecting;
– this is just me and how my brain works, and it doesn’t matter what anyone wants to call it – it’s real and what i live with every day;
– if i keep on working, one day i might get to the place where i function so normally that i barely even think about it any more – i will have achieved homeostasis.

To sum up this rambling post, i’m going to be grateful (in a way – silver linings and all that) for all that led to my uncomfortability. I know how to feel cringey and want to avoid and nope all of it – and do what’s in front of me to be done, regardless. So that’s what i’m gonna do. Like the blog says, this is life as me.

Stay as safe and well as you can.
Love and Peace,
~H~

* My cousins on my mother’s side were all shy and seemed frightened of me – they were raised in a religion that taught them to be afraid of outsiders, and i can only imagine what their parents thought and said of my mother’s 2-babies-out-of-wedlock-and-STILL-not-married lifestyle.

** There were times other children were being abused alongside me.

*** I don’t use this word lightly. My mother amassed a great deal of knowledge about religion and psychology. She put it all into play to make me into what she wanted me to be: an unconscious multiple who was an adoring slave in her own version of the cult of personality. At times she starved me, imprisoned me (in my room or a closet or even under my bed, where i’d cry and beg to come out from under), threatened me with child detention facilities, forced me to stand for long periods of time, holding things and reciting bible verses, paragraphs from self-help books, or her own handwritten paragraphs (usually rants about how awful i was, and how lucky i was to have her). She even occasionally used love-bombing, although it wasn’t a crowd of people, it was only her.
I was, by definition, brainwashed.

**** I feel it’s important to say i bear her no ill will. She was a lovely person who cared deeply for me. We were both hurt by a sick church which we both left. I saw her years later and she still had some beliefs along supernatural lines (which i do not), but she was warm, and kind and still working hard to help others. I’m still very fond of her.

IMAGE: Bambi Corro

Never Have I Ever

Squelched ocean sand between my toes
or picked my own mussels

Gone houseboating down the Shuswap
and sunbathed on the beach

Crowd-surfed at a concert while
others hoot and holler in celebration

Run through mud and rope-climbed walls
with fellow plucky survivors

Bungee-jumped or whipped down a zip line
or jumped out of a perfectly good airplane

Visited the lands of my forefathers
nor broken bread with those who yet live

*****
Felt completely at ease in a group
even if they’re all people i love

Stood in a line up without worrying
because i know someone must be staring at me

Gotten dressed up for some event
and been completely satisfied with my appearance

Had an argument where i wasn’t terrified
or a discussion where i didn’t feel attacked

Not worried that a man might want sex from me
or a woman was going to hurt me

Felt truly safe around other people
or utterly let down my guard

This is not poetry.
This is a bucket list.

IMAGE: Courtney Moore

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

Dream #3

Possible Warning: This dream contains some discussion of race, specifically whites and blacks. I don’t think it’s about that*, but in today’s firecracker/tinderbox atmosphere, you may want to skip it.** It also makes some non-specific references to teenagers having sex in a public place.

**********

I know i haven’t done any analysis on #2 yet. I’ve decided to let that 1 go for now, as it causes me extreme distress.
Meanwhile i have a dream from this morning very fresh in my mind that i think is significant, so i’m turning my attention to it, for now.

**********

My friends and i hop a train into downtown for a night of clubbing. We’re having a good time bar and pub hopping, but as we’re heading to a club for some dancing, we learn about a hot ticket that changes our minds.
There’s prom going on at a huge venue, and it’s open to the public. The big draw is that it’s a music high school that’s known for the brilliant rap musicians that’ve been coming out of it. There’s food and drink for the purchase of a ticket, and then you can catch some fresh new stuff done by up and comers.

We’re all keen and quickly pay up and head in. It’s packed, with white and black youths alike, but i do make a passing observance that they seem to be sticking in groups of their own race. That’s not entirely unheard of in my world, so i head to where the main stage is. There are 3 black youths on stage, engaged in a rap battle. They’re all amazing. My friends are content to hang back, but i want to get closer.
I do the thing i’m so good at during concerts and other crowded events/spaces, which is dodging people to get where i want to go. It’s a skill i came to as an Amazon-size female. Especially when i was heavier, i was almost invisible to the people around me, and i unconsciously turned both things to my advantage. I walk so fast most people find it hard to keep up with me when i’m going full throttle.
I stride through open spaces in a flash, expertly turning into little empty spots and then taking large, fast strides again. I’m like that annoying car during rush hour, moving in and out of lanes. Except i don’t have the potential to kill people, and i actually get somewhere. Heh.

Once up at the front i listen for a while and then decide to get some refreshments. I see the kitchen is stage left and head in that direction, thinking i’ll see a serving area close by. I pass a lot of kids heading in various directions, and they’re all taller than me, like pro basketball tall. They’re dressed in the expensive kind of track suits, and i admire all of their footwear (i like shoes). They’re black and their faces are stoic, not one is smiling. That’s not altogether strange i tell myself, but it IS a graduation reception, and people are usually smiling and laughing and joking around.

There are full length mirrors lining the wall to my right. I look at myself and smile, This is not a problem. Everything’s fine!
It is a rare thing indeed, for me to see myself in dreams, but i see myself clearly in this one, and in full. I don’t look like myself – not even close. I’m young, not much older than the ones graduating, i’d guess. I’m tall and pale and freckled (okay, that part is correct), and i’m sporting a shoulder-length, strawberry blonde mullet with a little faux hawk. I’m dressed completely in blinding white. Too-big white t-shirt with some black writing on it – sadly, i can’t remember what it said. White, thick jean jacket, highly constructed, and it hangs past my hip area. My jeans are also too big and look like they match the jacket. I’m wearing huge-ass white kicks. The outfit would NOT be cheap. You cannot tell if i’m a male or a female. I smile again at my visage, and note that i look cute.

I veer off at the sight of tables, with young people eating and drinking. Some are standing at a bar where they’re clearly getting food and beverages. It looks cafeteria-style. Cool, don’t have to talk to people, and i head over. I’m distracted by some more music, even better (to me) than watching a rap battle. Someone’s rapping ahead of me, and i can hear percussion and beatboxing. I weave through some tables to get a better look. I watch for only a few seconds before i realise something is wrong. There are tables set in enclave atmospheres, with some privacy screening, similar to what we see today in stores, restaurants, transit systems and the like. On the way closer, i pass a preppy looking white boy who sneers at me.
It’s not the way the tables are set up though, it’s that i can feel stares at my back. They feel like ice. I turn around and sure enough, i’m met with glares from white and black young men – there are no girls.

One of them says, “Man, this place ain’t for you.”
I reply that i like the music, and just wanted to listen.
He says, “Nah, you need to go.”
“Okay,” i say, ” it’s your grad. Congratulations everyone.”

As i make my way out i’m met with pure hostility in every face, except the first preppy white dude, whose smug smile makes me want to punch him. I give him my best 100-watt one, and then as i pass i strut my stuff, just a little.
So he knows he hasn’t gotten to me.

Leaving the food and drink area and its clusters of tables and various kids playing their own music at them, i can suddenly feel how unwelcome, how unwanted i am there. With every step i’m met with turned heads masked with hostility and jabbing at me with icy stares. As i’m walking away, i see half a dozen large, metal doors, swing outward, bleeding kids from another area of the venue. And then i hear the music.

It’s Cher’s Shoop Shoop song. Ugh, the most saccharine, worst cover, and my least favourite of Cher’s. (Let’s be clear: i love me some Cher.)
That’s when i notice that everyone pouring through the doors is white.
I think, Is that where i’m supposed to be, then?
But that’s not where i wanted to be – not the music i wanted to hear!

I decide to leave. Don’t wonder where my companions are, because i’m always separated from my friends or whoever i start the dream with. Always. I head towards the door and notice that everyone is white. They’re all sitting at massive tables, in those fancy seats with the velvety coverings and the high backs. The seating is luxe and curves around the table, giving those sitting there some modicum of privacy. Like those booth jobs you see in Vegas, you know the ones? I scan the crowd and they’re all white, and all dressed to the nines: expensive suits, tuxes, obviously tailored, and incredible prom dresses, like they’re all Cinderella at the Ball. I also notice that every single face looks like the kind of smug, arrogant, snotty, schmuck i ever attended school with. Privileged and elitist. Looking for the weak sheep to torture and cut from the herd. Mean girls and bully boys, i call them. They’re the ones who treat you nicely until the teacher leaves the room, or recess, or lunch hour, or after school. Or seeing you at the store or at your job on the weekends.

As i’m shuddering at the thought and making haste for the doors, i hear it. Moaning. I look and see a young woman engaging in sex in her booth. I won’t describe any of the troubling imagery, but it looked extremely uncomfortable, and the booth was filled with male youth cheering them on.
Whatever, i think. I’m not walking past that. I’ll go around the other way.
NOPE. More booths and more kids doing all kinds of stuff that i personally find distasteful at the least, and highly triggering at worst.
I feel trapped and disgusted and hopeless. One particular act makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I wake up and run to the bathroom, the urge to vomit is so strong.

**********

*Upon writing it all out, it is CLEARLY about racial tension and segregation. Is it a metaphor for something in my life? I’ll work on that tomorrow.

**Also a gentle reminder that my blog isn’t a place for heated discussions or arguments. Thank you for your kind respect.

Image: Efren Barahona

Singing in the Dark

Heart of my heart i went down to the water to see you
But i couldn’t
I got lost in the eddies and captivated by currents

Mind of my mind i climbed up the mountain to hear you
But i didn’t
The wind was so loud so i picked a few wildflowers instead

Flesh of my flesh i delved deep in my dreams to meet you
But i shouldn’t
The dreams are lovely and terrible and i find it hard to leave

You are the water that threatens to take me
You are wind that will blow me straight off the cliffs
And you are the dream that will hold me in sleep forever

Song of my song i wrote this to sing for you
But i wouldn’t
And my throat ached at my resistance

Pain of my pain i reached out blindly
And i would
I sat still in the dark tonight and sang it to you

You are the one who gave your life for me
You are the reason my body yet breathes
I will sing to you now and always

I found you here and here you ever shall be

~ Mine, September 03, 2020

IMAGE: Pawel Szvmanski

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.

Alone

Is this a poem?

I’m alone every day
Smiling at everyone
They can’t know
And that’s all i know

Is this a poem?

I make friends
These are my friends — i made them
You can’t see them
They’re only for me

Is this a poem?

You look at my face
You hear my voice and you think you know me
I’m a Russian doll, friend
You don’t know a thing

Is this a poem?

I can’t write for shit
You’re reading how i talk
Every day all day
To people on the internet

Is this a poem?

It most certainly is not
I tap it out all the same
I live my best life
Regurgitating every thought

This is not poetry

~ Mine, August 24, 2020