Big Love


If you love something
set it free
If it comes back
it is yours
If it doesn’t

it never was
~ Proverb

About manipulation…

It is very hard not to do it sometimes.
There is a situation in my life that i could fix with just a little push, here and there.
Just a properly worded statement or 2.
A well acted play, presented in a few short acts.
I could just “fix” the problem and no one would be the wiser.
Except me.
Except me.

Ah, why did i grow so much?
Why am i sitting here, working on letting go with love?
Why did i build a love so big that i could do this?
A love bigger than myself.
I could have what i want.
It’s right there in my hand and it wants to be there.
Manipulation takes away the individual’s autonomy.


So this is the true test. This is it right here.
Believe people when they show you who they are.
I do. I do believe.
And it’s so not okay, but it has to be.
I have to love me, too. More than i ever have.
Manipulation is a zero sum mind game.

I love them so.
I hate that i love enough to let go, but it can’t be undone.
The world has suddenly gotten bigger, and i am afraid.
I am also sort of excited.
I will either get what i want or i won’t.
The world will keep spinning me dizzy.
But my personal machinations are winding down.

Today is a perfect day outside.
I’ve decided to match it inside.
Beauty for beauty, shine for shine.
I will give my truest self, which will never be for naught.
No matter what comes – and the rain always comes.
I will stand outside and let it wash me clean.
There is no fate, only choice.

This is a vague one, and i do apologise, but it is what it has to be.

Bulwarks, Battlements… & Ducks

Strange title, eh? I was trying to figure out how to share about a particular set of personal flaws i’m trying to master, and i thought it might serve me well. Maya Angelou once spoke about not allowing oneself to be “pecked to death by ducks.” I understood that only years later, when i was extricating myself from friends and family who took little pieces out of me every chance they got. The backhanded compliment and the voice of disdain and the subtle eyeroll… It was difficult and scary to move away from these relationships until i clued in to how much better i was feeling. These people “meant to have my life,” a piece at a time, and i was bleeding to death slowly, from a thousand little bites.

Getting space from them –which is all i’d intended to do when i began– allowed me to start healing from these attacks. After a while, i had an experience of peace, so much so that even i, in my generally dissociated state, was able to easily mark the anxiety that welled up inside me at the mere prospect of any contact with them. I’ve been happily estranged from all of the pecking ducks in my life for nearly 10yrs now.
It’s only been in the last year or so that it’s come to my attention that i can also be a duck sometimes. And i’m guilty of pecking at those with whom i share living space, particularly my husband and my sons.

There are reasons i do this, of course. Everyone has reasons – genuine, legitimate reasons. The people i left behind that did it to me probably have some fine ones. However, that does not excuse crappy behaviour. The behaviour i’m currently focused on eliminating is entrenched, and broad in scope. It’s manipulation. It’s an ugly trait of mine – a ubiquitous stinkweed in my garden, and i’m pulling it out at the roots, wherever i find it.

It was taught to me, and modeled for me. My mother was a master manipulator. By the time she had me, i think honesty and forthrightness were already well behind her. And once she made the decision to use me as a commodity, i doubt she drew an honest breath. Whatever her own reasons, she snuck up to whatever and whomever she wanted. If she ever came at anything head-on, it was calculated, and generally secondary to what she really wanted. I am convinced that people were sport for her. We were all mice in her maze, and she took pleasure in seeing what she could make us do. We were either utterly clueless, or wrong about her true intentions.

When i was barely out of toddlerhood, she taught me panhandling and shoplifting. I would stand outside the local bar, while she was inside, targeting some drunken mark. It wasn’t as big a deal for a child to be out on their own back in those days, and if anyone ever expressed concern, i knew what to say and how to act to allay their fears. I was always tall for my age, and i presented as older than i actually was. I was the perfect blend of innocent and precocious. I was always clean and well groomed in those days. I looked nice – but not too nice. After speaking with me for a couple of minutes, many people were charmed into believing i wasn’t being abused or neglected, but my mother and i could sure use a couple of bucks, which they thoughtfully tucked into my pocket or purse.

She taught me cold reading, too. She was a skilled fortune-teller. I’m not here to speak on whether or not any of it is for real, i’m only saying that her “gifts” were pure con. I knew what to say to whom, based on how they dressed, how they spoke to me, what they drove, whom they were with, what purchases they might be carrying… As i got older, she taught me palm reading, reflexology, reading auras, etc. She also taught me how to shoplift food and necessities from grocery departments. Knowing what i know now –that she worked good jobs that paid a living wage– i don’t know why we were so poor. I think it was mostly selfishness with a little bit of lousy money management, but whatever it was, i grew up extremely poor. What little we did have was tightly controlled by her, and could be given or withheld based on her whims.

What methods of control and manipulation she didn’t teach me outright, i picked up by how she treated others. She could get what she wanted from me or my stepfather or siblings with a variety of recognisable methods:

– a withering look;
– an eyeroll;
– a dangerous glare;
– a deep sigh;
– the silent treatment;
– a sarcastic comment;
– a pointed question, e.g. Do you think you should be eating/wearing/saying/doing that?

I know a lot of people do these kinds of things. They’re easily identifiable as manipulative by anyone who’s even half paying attention. My mother had developed these methods to a fine art, though. And as with most families, a lot of how we acted and responded to each other was unconscious and reflexive in nature. Plus, we were all afraid of her – every single one of us. She could escalate a situation, going from zero to light speed in seconds flat. And she wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone –oh, she could play scared and hurt and sad when it suited her purposes– but i’m convinced everyone was a mark to her. Underneath her sweet and jovial facade lay a deeply dangerous woman, full of white hot fury that could quickly manifest in a capable, easy violence.

I grew up thinking that sort of behaviour, that kind of treatment, was normal.
If i thought about it at all, that is. (I did not, until i was an adult.)

I can be petty even now, sure. I’m far from perfect, like most of us. But i’m specifically posting today about some of those sneaky, petty, duck-bitey ways of getting something from someone. It’s a way to get what i want without actually having to ask for it.
It’s about control, and avoiding rejection.
Repeating that last bit louder, for my friends in the back row:
It’s about control, and avoiding rejection.

I’m working at removing all of those behaviours from the above list. Those petty, passive-aggressive, nasty tendencies that were bred into me, that i thought were just the price of 2 human beings doing business with each other. One had to get over on the other. Life as a zero sum game.
(To be honest, you will pry my sarcasm from my cold, dead hands… But i will use it judiciously, okay?)

I found out a few years ago, that there are not a few people intimidated by me. I was surprised by that. After giving it some thought, i figured out where the disconnect was happening. I see myself from the inside, and i interpret things through my experiences, my opinions and beliefs, my filters. I have blindspots; things i’m unaware of, things i haven’t learned yet.
I see myself as this sweet, nice, funny gal with a salty tongue and twisty sense of humour. I’m privy to how insecure and frightened i can be, and how intimidated >>i<< am by other people and the world around me. >>I<< know that some of how i present is a facade, created out of childhood trauma, mental illness, neuroatypicality (if that’s not a word, it is now), a desperate need for connection and yet a colossal fear of rejection.

The truth is i AM sweet and nice. I am kind and empathetic and generous. The truth also is that it can be hard to get past all of my protections to have a genuine experience of me as who i am. Another truth is that it is no one’s job to get past my myriad defenses.
It is MY job to lay down my weapons, lower the drawbridge, stand at my battlements, and invite those i will to come in.
And who’d want to approach with snapping, cavernous-jawed, toothy creatures in my moat and a cannon at every embrasure? Why come in to break bread and drink a toast when the hearth is cold, the hallways damp and drafty, and there’s nothing in the pot, bubbling away and wafting a welcoming smell?

Enough imagery – now to the meat of the matter. Heh.
I’m working hard to drop all of my passive-aggressive defenses and manipulative conduct. There’s no longer any need for it. I am not in danger anymore, i am surrounded by loved ones who dearly love me. They have proven already that they will not reject me, nor betray me, and they are willing to take the time and effort to work out any issues between us or difficulties we may have navigating a relationship with one another. From this bastion of comfort, care, and commitment i can venture out or invite others in to take a load off and set a spell.
If a visitor overstays or otherwise becomes unwelcome i am free and well within my rights to bid them adieu. I needn’t fear that, or an outright rejection of my invitation and hospitality. My castle is filled and fortified and guests may come and go as either of us will it to be so.

I ask for what i want and i state what i do not, plainly and without fanfare.
I do not take to my chaise longue with a case of the vapours.
I no longer treat others as if they’re stupid for not knowing something that i do.
I’m not playing for the power position.
I don’t view asking for something as a vulnerability, nor do i see it as a loss to have to ask, or a victory to receive it without using plain language.
I’m not expecting everyone to eventually hurt me and leave me.
I act on the outside who i am on the inside, because i know for a fact that rejection won’t kill me.
I seek kindness, generosity, understanding, and willingness in others as i do in myself.

No more pecking.
I won’t allow anyone to nip little bits out of me anymore.
And i hope that anyone who reads this and knows me personally doesn’t tolerate that crap from me.
At least, not ever again.

And if I’ve built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire

Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire
~ Sting, Fortress Around Your Heart


With Thought and Care,
~H~

*As she aged, gained weight, and became more of a shut-in, it slipped more and more until she wasn’t fooling anybody anymore. At the end, the only people she could exert control over was her husband, her kids, and various members of her 12-step program and her church.



IMAGE: Robert Gramner

IV Anger

First word I learned was No
but I couldn’t speak it
It stayed inside and kept company with Please
& Stop
Anger
Knocking on my door
but i couldn’t answer
Too busy with pain & sadness
Cold & keening
Rushing through my legs to run
to the front door
Knocking
Come out and play with me
Let’s run and jump and yell and stomp
Clap clap clap – To me!
I peeked through the mail slot
but i couldn’t see
So I poked through 1 finger
and crooked it ’round a long & leathery one
Sparks! Oh the sparks were like little fireworks
Travelling zippy & skippy up my arm
Hot red light arcing between us
Back & forth
but i couldn’t reach the deadlock
It nodded and poured itself
molten
Melting the lock
The knob drips
The door is cinders
It flows up through my feet
and I am simmering metal
Fever-sweats and roiling smoke
We walk away from home
Crushing footprints into the sidewalk
scorching the grass
Wildfire
Come! Come let’s go!
We shall pop by old friends and pay a visit to ailing relatives
We’ll run and jump and yell and stomp
Sizzling asphalt as i start the car
Wheels spinning flashing fire
Red Orange Pink Blue White
It isn’t hot in this furnace
It’s so cool, man
Tap tap tap
Hello
They don’t remember me
But i do
And i remember them
Zap!
It’s so nice to see their big costumes
framed in the doorway
Filling it up with bulk & sweat
I blow them sulfur kisses
and incinerate them where they stand
Zap! Poof!
Anger howls with joy & tidings rain down
Steaming us smooth
I’m practising new language
So duo lingo this, bitches
WHEE!
Shimmer hot
My ally & I
baking in the heat
But cool inside like ice cream pie
Melting alloys weld us together
and my hand is leather
Solder on, Soldiers
I’ll slap you on my wheel and spin you into art
Step into my kiln ye philanderers
Opportunistic predators and paedophiles
Their eyes are paint pots become splashes of colour
Drip drip drip down layers of beryl beauty
that i made
That I Made
Anger beats out
Blazing golden fury
Bakes it hard & furious
But i am cool water
Volcano depths shake & crack open
Filling vases and cups and coffee table centrepieces
with lava
I drink it down
Wipe dripping fire from my lips
Delicious
Walk me home now, friend
You’ve been a fine playdate
We should do this again sometime soon
See you tomorrow!
Cool azure sleep & dreams of soft oceans full of silence
Yes, susurrate
Shh…

~ Mine, June 28, 2021



IMAGE: Science in HD



Morning Gardens

I met my love
on a telephone line
His voice like good, strong coffee
with a spoonful of sugar

He held my hand
in his warm tan one
Big knuckles and fat veins
knit through my long fingers

My love finally kissed me
underneath a sliver of moon
The smell of his skin
opened me up like Primrose

He trembled like mosquito wings
as I poured myself languidly
moving down the length of him
like tree sap, smell of cinnamon

I took my love home
to my chaos and echoes
He hung all my damp linens
outside to dry

With his face in my neck
I called him My Love
and he gathered me closer
his breath deep and quiet

My love for him filled me
The empty spaces
outside me fell silent
while inside I whispered

His smile is soft
as a cat’s belly
I wound his hair ’round my fingers
and wrote our denouement

My love is sleepy now
and it’s high time for rest
I brush his cheek with pale lips
and splay a curl on his pillow

The echoes are gone
yet the whispers remain
They travel over my skin
drying my tears

The sun spills morning
over dew on the leaves
making diamonds i might trade
for passage to tomorrow

~ Mine, June 25, 2021



IMAGE: Nareeta Martin

My Love Affair W/Anger, Pt. III

The sleeper must awaken.
~ Duke Leto Atreides, Dune

For a while i was angry all the time; everyone and everything set me off. I hadn’t much experience with sitting with anger and feeling it, so my system would step in and take it for me. I’d stifled my anger for so long that, while there seemed to be no going back, i was still trying to manage it using old tools. Parts of me would try to absorb it, like a little one who’d charm everyone around her, or an angsty teen who’d take it to her room and mope. There was also my most developed part, who would shut me away and take charge of the house, my husband, and my kids. She’d clean within an inch of my life and feed everyone to bursting, all while being brusque and terse and not any fun at all.

The worst was when things were sour between my husband and i. To be angry at him frightened everyone inside, as he was the source of what little security we had. One perceived wrong look or frustrated tone from him could trigger a switch that might result in smashed dishes, kicked in doors, or my face in his face, screaming and howling. The worst though, came if i felt significantly threatened or shamed, then my system would broadcast the imperative that had been built into me by my abusers: GO HOME. I’d immediately leave the house and hit the road, often hitchhiking into the city and disappearing for hours or even a day/night.

I had no control over my actions, but it wasn’t anger’s fault. Anger was doing its job. Anger had been activated inside me long ago, but it wasn’t safe for me to feel it until i was an adult and safely away from my abusers. If i’d shown anger i risked what little home and safety i had. Sure, it wasn’t much, and no, i wasn’t really safe at all… But i didn’t know that. I was raised to believe whatever best suited my mother’s whims and desires. I believed i was bad and unlovable, and i believed that i was lucky… No. Fortunate… No. I was BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE that she had deigned to bestow her mercy on me and throw me the odd crumb of love, attention, lodging, food.
I stuffed my anger down so far i wasn’t even aware i was angry.
And the couple of times i felt it in her presence i was put in my place – easily and instantly.
I knew it was an emotion to which the likes of me had no right.

And it wasn’t so much that anger made me lose control – feeling anything intensely enough caused me problems. I was so split apart that the only way for me to function was to act, to put on a show. All i knew was donning the face costume of the day and hoping for the best. I didn’t understand that i was mostly smoke and mirrors until i was well into adulthood. I gave everyone what i thought they expected/wanted, and shoved everything that was uniquely me so far down inside i forgot i was anything else.

Acknowledging that my childhood was abusive, that my primary abuser was my mother, and that the result of it all was that i was a multiple, allowed some things to swim up to the surface. Therapy and time was required for me to figure out how to handle it all. Looking at all of my past was a terrible experience, painful and ugly. It triggered all sorts of reflexive responses: to shut down, to run away, to blame myself, to drown in shame and seek forgiveness… Any or all of these might have swallowed me whole, but anger came in and saved me every time.

Anger took my hand and squeezed it tight and said, No, and Stop, and Hold on a minute here.
Anger asked me, What did you do to deserve that?
Anger answered for me and said, Nothing you could have done would have deserved that.
Anger shouted from the sidelines, What a fucking monster! She is one sick bitch!
Anger asked, Who does this shit? What the fuck was wrong with her?
Anger ranted and groused and cursed and jumped up and down and pounded its fists.
Anger turned my face back to it, again and again and again, and said to me No. Stop. Fuck that shit.
Anger pulled me close and turned my face back out and Look. Look at all this and SEE. See who she was. See what she did to you. Look at how little you were. How innocent and sweet and good. See that you did nothing, could do nothing, to deserve what she did to you.
Anger swept away all distraction and opened my eyes to the stark truth.
Anger rose up before me in righteousness and fiery resolve.
Anger peeled the scales from my eyes and turned them to ash.
Anger burned my prison to cinders.

Anger danced me into the furnace, and i was not burned.

Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and goodwill, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of lost children.
~ Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction

Anger is he who came and shepherded me. Anger found me and kept me. And then set me free.

I take a deep breath & I count to 3, in hope that it’s grounding me,
poetic my tantrums bound to be when I’ve found relief, sound asleep,
this anger will never be about to leave, you’ll see
~ Esskay, Beautiful Anger




IMAGE: Amruth Pillai

Beneath A Star

Look around you find the ground
Is not so far from where you are
But don’t be too wise
~ Nick Drake, Things Behind The Sun

Still very low. It feels like i have zero energy. Sometimes i’m okay with baby steps and sometimes it gets to me and i just want to scream, RESULTS NOW! Bigger, better, faster, stronger, moremoremore!
I keep stiff-upper-lipping, i am persevering, i’m moving slowly because i bloody well must, but good goddamnit, why must this take so long?

Playing the long game takes so much time and so much consistency and i wonder if this is a mere blip or am i genuinely almost out of spoons? It’s usually a blip, but what if it isn’t this time?
I sit i stand i lie down with reality these days. In truth, in my body. In hope, in my face, looking directly into the sun. I’ll make new spoons from my dripping eyes as they melt in the brilliance of real life. I’ll be blind but i won’t be in pain… Right?
RIGHT?!

Has anyone noticed that i’m the quiet one now?
Has anyone marked the peace in me?
I’m okay with spinning along with the earth most days.
But today, oh today i want answers, please. I want to KNOW things. Today i want to read the last page. I want to know if all this work and all this investment and all the interminable waiting will be fucking worth it. JesusChristingGoddamn it, i clean up one mess only for another to be revealed.
And it’s taking so long that i’m running out of good years.

It’s my body, you see.
I’m getting my brain together only for my body to fall apart.
It’s my personality too, you know.
I’m getting a handle on my emotions and behaviours only for my relationships to peter out.
I’m becoming the person i’ve always wanted to be, but will anyone be left to enjoy me with me?
I’ve gotten myself mostly together just in time to see that everyone around me is still fairly messy.*

It seems as if i was liked better when i was more broken. It was easier when i blamed myself for everything. When i cracked a joke or acted the fool instead of crying out in pain or screaming out no. I could be dismissed when i was ranting about things i was mostly clueless about. Up on my soapbox, shouting about politics and religion. Snarking about science and sex and celebrities. Silly girl. Forgive her, she knows not whereof she speaks.
The less i’m seen, the more favourable my reviews.
Easier to consume in small doses.

Now, i’m not speaking unless i’ve done a whole lot of listening first.
Now, i’m not saying things to cozen or toady.
Now, i’m far less concerned with being liked than i am with being real and true.

Blech. I just read this over and it reeks of childishness.
A blip it is, then. This will pass. I’m at a low ebb because i’m in physical pain and i’m running low on energy and hope and determination. I’ll ride it out for now and spend some of my hope on tomorrow being better. Some days it’s harder to fight than others.
One day i would like not to have to fight. At least, not all the time.
How is anyone supposed to notice this brand new me in a pandemic, H?
I mean, how many folks have you actually shared space with in the last 15mos?
Who can/would/should track your progress besides you?

Some days i am so low i could almost wish for a thing to pray to. Almost.
I would like health in my body, peace in my mind, and solid ground in my relationships.
That might not be possible, but they are worthy goals.
And it is not for a thing to grant, but for me to attain.

Trudging on…

And open wide the hymns you hide
You’ll find renown while people frown
At things that you say
But say what you’ll say


*I’m discharging emotion for my mental health. I don’t think i’m better than the people around me. I am perhaps more invested in self-improvement (and probably more in need of it).

IMAGE: Sven Scheuermeier



Behind the Curtain


I’m extremely low today. There is something on my horizon that is going to change my entire life, and i’m so sad about it. I’ve done everything i can to avoid it, but the time has come to admit defeat. I cannot fix this thing. I’ve done as much as i can and the rest is not up to me. I could manipulate things to be more what i want them to be, but i don’t do that anymore. I have learned to accept people for who they show me they are, even when it hurts. Even when it’s not what i want. This is the last thing that i want, but it’s what i have.

I’m sorry for being so vague, but for now that’s all i can do. It’s too awful to fully acknowledge. For the record, i am okay today. I’m not in any danger, either from myself or someone else. If i get too low and need help, i will get it. I’m seeing my therapist every month, but i’ll probably bump that up. My heart is broken. I feel sick to my stomach. I could cry for days; i probably will.

I fell this spring, and did some serious damage. It’s looking like i have a pinched nerve in my back that is getting worse. I wound up in emerg this weekend with chest pain, numbness in my arms and legs, syncope, high blood pressure, and dehydration. After all the tests it seems likely it’s either a pinched nerve or degenerative discs. I think it’s the former. I need it to be the former. I’ve got too much to do, to prepare for, to take on, for it to be the latter.
I’ve incorporated some extra stretching that targets my upper back specifically, and i’m hoping that helps. This yawning pit of sadness that’s opened up in me is making the pain much worse, i think. The anxiety that gripped me late last week has only amplified over this weekend’s events, and my pain level is high.

My bruxism gets worse when i’m upset, and right now my face hurts so badly i wish i could take my jaw out. One more week until i can do a couple of things that have been waiting for nearly 18mos – i need Botox shots in my face to handle the teeth-grinding/jaw-clenching, and i need a new prescription for glasses. I have halos morning and evening, and wicked headaches and eye aches from straining to see. I’m in fibro flareup, which isn’t likely to get any better while i’m this stressed.

My game plan is to focus on routine:
– personal hygiene;
– clean house;
– writing/blogging;
– stay the course regarding eating/exercise goals;
– therapy;
– getting my affairs in order in preparation for future changes.

I will need all the tools in my kit to get through this, but i think when it’s all done i’ll still be standing.
I’m going to be okay, but i can’t write anymore today. I need to go and be sad, now.

Y’all hang in there as best you can. I promise i’ll be doing the same.

Clearly I am not a fat ass
I am active brain
And lip smacking peach deep
Sometimes too aggressive in its honesty
And heart sweet
That loves wholly and completely
Whom it may choose
Whom ever it may choose
~ Jill Scott, Womanifesto



IMAGE: Michael Dziedzic

Forbidden

I love things it’s not cool to
Like my fanny pack
and cheap candy
Little foil-wrapped Easter eggs
too sweet and waxy
I dig them out during long walks
Trying to concentrate on the road
while sucking chocolate
from my fingers
It holds the tinny shreds handily
so i don’t litter

I love things i’m not allowed to
Like women and weirdness
and arrythmic dancing
I am out on the floor alone
my body supplicant to the bass
My arms reach out to the edges
and beckon them
join me
Yes everyone’s watching
They know nothing
but they might learn

I love things i’m not permitted to
Like my staccato laugh
Vivace forte
And my big legs that spirit me away
from them and pain and death
They falter not
and keep on truckin’
Girded with hard hot muscle
I pound every floor
and shake the air
with seething joy

~ Mine, June 17, 2021



IMAGE: Tim Gouw

My Love Affair W/Anger, Part II


WARNING: Brief reference to rape.

Poetry = Anger X Imagination
~ Sherman Alexie, One Stick Song


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
~ William Blake, Songs of Experience


Anger, Tessa thought, was satisfying in its own way, when you gave in to it. There was something gratifying about shouting in a blind rage until your words ran out.
~ Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel


**********

The flavour-of-the-month where therapy was concerned at that time, was the self-help monolith known as 12-step program. I tried any and all that might apply.

(NOTE: It’s going to be clear that i have some negative opinions regarding this organisation and their methods. It is my own opinion based on personal experience. My thoughts about their politics and the data that’s been gathered over the years regarding its efficacy have no place here. If you have been helped by them, i’m only glad. If they’re an integral part of your life and being successful, i say keep that shit up. If you are currently seeking help from them, i sincerely wish you well.)

I started with looking for help with my issues with food. I branched out to others, looking for some kind of group vibe that suited me. What i found there was religion. Over and over again i felt forced into a mold that didn’t fit. I’d pour myself in, only to feel contained and suffocated. The freedom proclaimed by others eluded me, despite my best efforts. I took every suggestion and worked every step, thoroughly and repeatedly. It did help me clean some of the clutter out of my brain, enough so that after some years, i could see that there were parts of my brain that were closed doors to me. I felt incomplete. I knew i wasn’t done. The completion of the steps did not bring me the things it seemed to bring others. I was unsatisfied and frustrated and disillusioned.

The longer my mother’s death afforded me no contact with her, the safer it became for my true self to poke its head out from the darkest recesses of my brain and have a look around.
Religion, to put it as mildly as possible, does not suit me.

I worked 12-step programs, i went to group therapy (so many groups), and pursued individual counselling with a half dozen different people over a half dozen years. It all helped some, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t going anywhere near my dissociative nature, or the reasons for it. Any time any of the therapy or therapists came close to it, i became disgusted and moved on to the next thing.

My deep-seated and untapped anger had resulted in abuse towards my child, and wrought a cold distance between me and other people. I wish i hadn’t hurt my son, but at least i knew i was hurting him. I knew i needed to be a better parent, and i sought help. I took parenting classes from any place that offered them, and i associated with women that seemed to me to be good moms. I hung out with them and aped their actions. It helped some, but not enough. I loved him so much it hurt my heart, but there was something missing in the way i connected with him.

I’d received feedback from many people that i was a closed system. They said i was only knowable to a point, and then the door was shut and they couldn’t get it open. That wasn’t at all what i wanted, but i couldn’t seem to open the door, either. I wanted friends; i craved connection with others. I felt hidden and would try to open up, but that was always followed by abject terror and horror at what i’d done. I’d often become repulsed by the person i’d shared with, and recoil from the friendship, avoiding further association. I knew i wrecked relationships and hurt people.
Again, i sought help.

In both cases the assistance and guidance i was able to find only helped so much.
I was unconsciously resistant to anything that came too close to my multiplicity, and the reason that i was a multiple. The mere suggestion from any mental health care professional that i might be highly dissociative was met with instant, actual physical revulsion, and if they dared utter the words “multiple personality disorder,” i bolted and never returned.

Slowly though, all the therapy helped, even just a visit or 3, even a counsellor that was ill-equipped to handle my mountain of issues and torrential past (frankly, that was most of them). The one thing it consistently did, THEY ALL consistently did, was help me redirect my anger towards its true source: my childhood, my upbringing, and specifically, my mother. My resistance to the idea that my mother was an abuser was powerful, but years and distance had loosened her grip on me.

The night my stepfather tried to suffocate me because i wasn’t easy to rape i cried out for her help. She left me to tend to him that night, and dropped me at a shelter 2 days later. She used my siblings as bait to get me to drop the charges against him. At her deathbed she accepted my sobbed out apologies for being a bad daughter, but never offered her own for being a terrible mother.
Her death freed me, although i didn’t know it until much later.
Some internal barriers fell, and the truth began seeping in.
When i was ready, vulnerable and filled with a need to know and understand, those moments came back to me. I caught a glimpse of the beast under her moribund facade, and rage was born in me.

A couple of years after her death, a perfect storm of events sent me spiralling:

– I accepted the DID diagnosis;
– I got married;
– I lost a LOT of weight;
– I had a long and intense mania.

When the mania finally released its grip, i was in terrible shape, both mentally and physically. All the anger that had been simmering inside me came bubbling up, throwing everything into chaos. I didn’t know what to do with all of it. There was so much it overwhelmed and consumed me. It pulled me into its arms and danced with all my parts. They all rose up and partnered with it, spinning across the floor of my mind, whirling and dipping to a tremulous treble and a pounding bass. The rage thrummed through my blood and suffused my flesh. I was hot and red with it. I was in its thrall.

It was forbidden love, and we’d all fallen hard. It was exhilarating and intoxicating. It was a whirlwind romance and i was filled with power and a dire beauty. I was wearing the red shoes, and i danced and i danced and i danced.


More to come yet…

My Love Affair With Anger


Anger: AnggUHR n. A strong feeling of displeasure or hostility.

The best fighter is never angry.
~ Lao Tzu


Anger… it’s a paralyzing emotion… it’s helpless… it’s absence of control… I have no use for it whatsoever.
~ Toni Morrison


Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside.
~ Mitch Albom


Don’t hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.
~ Leo Buscaglia


**********

I vigorously disagree with these quotes/sentiments.

I’ve had to work hard to find the right kind of help to heal and move on from my past.
Part of the difficulty came from “common sense,” pop psychology, and inspirational speakers and philosophers with ideas like these. Being raised religious, it came naturally to me to believe and trust any adult who embodied the qualities i was taught were moral and wise. When i went to these people for help, i always did my level best. I did what they told me to do, read their books and studiously completed every workbook. I took their courses and parroted their words. I worked therapy like it was my only job. Like i was diabetic and it was my insulin.

It never “took.” Some things would land, and i would plant them in my garden. But most of it never took root, never flourished. A lot of it withered and died. I had been raised to believe that in any and all situations, if there was a problem of any stripe, it was me or because of me. So, i bore it all as my failure, not the therapist’s or their particular brand of therapy.*
As with so many other things, like education, like weight loss, like love… There is simply no one-size-fits-all for therapy, for how to fix your problems, for how to live your life.

Dozens and dozens of people, places, and things came into play to help me save my life. The loss or absence of any one of them may have resulted in me not making it. I find this perhaps the most true when it comes to anger. I’ve written about it before, but it bears repeating, i think. Over and over again, i see anger getting a bad rap. I don’t see any emotion as either negative or positive. They are just feelings. They’re indicators, they’re place markers, they’re flags, they’re storytellers. It is the actions that follow an emotion that can be good or bad. And by that metric, in my life what has flowed from me as a result of anger has been lifesaving, empowering, and actually quite wonderful.

If my abusers had permitted, had tolerated any anger from me, i might have eventually told them NO, STOP, and risen up against them. That was too great a risk for them to take. That they might not only lose their living shit receptacle, but also perhaps be caught by some authority in their twisted deeds? For others to find out how sick and selfish and psychopathic they were? Absolutely not. And why worry? Because in me they’d found the perfect victim. I was obedient, compliant, and never spoke a word about the abuse to anyone.

The first time i can remember feeling angry i was around 9, i think. It only makes sense that i’d have felt it before, but it was either mild, or i hid it away because it was against the rules. I knew i had no rights. I knew only those in power positions were permitted anger. I believed it was right for them to be angry, about whatever they were angry about. My job was to fit their narrative into my experience. They were always right and i was always wrong. I was certainly the cause of their anger often enough.

I began getting angry fairly regularly after that, but i expressed it through sarcasm and disdain. Students and teachers alike found me intimidating (i found out later), a combination of my size (where the students were concerned) and my next-level mouthiness. By the time i was in high school, no one physically threatened me anymore. They still said awful things that stick with me to this day –and that includes teachers– but no one tried to hit me. (Unless you count that 1 jerkwad of a teacher who’d throw things at me in class, including a dictionary straight at my head.)
So, my sarcasm could be caustic, and i was sometimes flat out obnoxious, but i wasn’t violent.

Once i got away from my mother and had a child of my own, my anger became a problem. No one had taught me how to handle the normal frustrations that come along with raising a child. What my mother had modeled was abusive, and at that point, thankfully, i knew that. I took parenting classes, which helped a lot, but i was desperately in need of good therapy. Having a kid had me constantly triggered. I couldn’t connect with him physically, and i was hot and cold, emotionally. He was one of the best behaved children i’ve ever known, so i wasn’t tested often, but when i was, my patience ran out quickly, and i spanked him on a number of occasions. Too hard. I was angry. I was a triggered, dissociative mess and i needed help.

To be continued…


*To be fair, i only had a few awful therapists, who shouldn’t have been practising. Most of the time they were decent, and they tried to help me. They just didn’t have the right tools for the job. I’m sure they helped other people.



IMAGE: Julien Pouplard