Making My House A Home

When you can’t take it anymore
Why not forget the past
And off you run
Baby, run
No more tears, no more mistakes
Why don’t you just check out your bags and run?
Baby, run
~ Run Baby Run, Amanda Lear

I’m hard-wired to run.

My mother would move us every year or 2, without fail – sooner if folks started becoming suspicious, or the authorities came poking around home or school. The abusers that surrounded me also programmed me to return home at the first sign of danger. /irony
Paedophiles love a multiple, but that’s a different story, and one too dark for me to tell today. Once i left home, i never stayed in one place for very long, maybe, 3-6mos, tops. I never thought anything of it, it was just the way i lived. I’d get antsy and the urge to go somewhere else was never far from me. Memory fades some with age of course, but even now i can think of 32 places i’ve lived in my 53yrs.

I had some decent therapy under my belt when i had my first child, and so i had the insight to promise myself that i’d stay in one place for 1yr minimum for his sake. And one year was the best i could manage. That is, until i moved in with the man who’d become my husband. We lived in our city’s ‘Hood in the same house for 10yrs, and we’ve been out here on our beloved Little Crooked House on the Prairie for 12, now.
But still… I deal with the urge to run on a regular basis.
The therapy i’m in, coupled with our current pandemic, has kicked it up to daily, and sometimes many times a day.

My childhood taught me that some shit is always gonna come down the pike where you gotta skedaddle. You smell trouble brewing, you GTFO ASAP. We always left things behind, too. When we moved we generally had to move fast, say, to evade creditors or avoid Social Services. Other times it was due to local gossip – whispers about the huge woman with the husband that looked like a teenager (he was), or the children that didn’t seem to be properly cared for (we weren’t). There were also occasions when my mother would tank a friendship so badly, that she’d move us out of anger, shame, owed money or apologies… She was the queen of the geographical cure.

I learned not to get attached to things, e.g. clothing, stuffies, pictures, various knickknacks and tchotchkes (isn’t that a wonderful word?), bedding, dishes. Even books could be left behind. (Yes, i’m as aghast as you.) Even some lovely things of my grandparents’ that she inherited upon their deaths. That carried into my adulthood. Although i didn’t leave things behind when i moved out –i left places empty and clean– i manifested my mother’s example in a particular way.*

I didn’t decorate my space.
I didn’t put up pictures or paint or have a decorating style. Bric-à-brac was minimal. And i lived frugally, so i’d take whatever furniture, dishes, bedding, and suchlike that i could get. I’m one of those people that has trouble resisting something if it’s free. Number one, i keep my money for something else. The #2 (hahaha – yes i still laugh at poop jokes) that was quietly hovering in the background, was that if i needed to run, i wouldn’t feel as guilty for leaving things behind because i hadn’t spent money on them.

When we lived in the city and were expecting our third child, i tried to decorate. I watched HGTV all day, every day, and became obsessed with painting techniques and decorating. I started, but i couldn’t finish. I seriously couldn’t. I painted the room, did a cool texture thingy with plastic bags and primer, and started putting up a teddybear border close to the ceiling. I thought i stopped because i was pregnant and tired, which i was, but also negative crap like i was fat and useless and talentless. (Honestly, those teddybears were rather awful. Heh.)
I believe now that it’s tied directly to my reticence to set down roots.
Lest they be torn mercilessly from the ground, you know?
No, says my mind.
No, you never know.
What’s HOME, Precioussss?
I didn’t know, and i distrusted the concept, though i saw it modeled well many times outside of my childhood hellhouse.

My husband and i moved  me and our 2 younger boys out of our blue-grey house with the red metal roof, on a relatively quiet street, smack in the middle of the ‘Hood. I was at the peak of my first big mania, working in the entertainment industry. I was partying 5 days a week, engaging in high risk behaviours, and day-drinking while neglecting my children. It would take some time to sell the house and deal with our furious 15yr old who refused to move with us who was trying to figure out how to emancipate himself (and understandably, rightly so). He stayed in the city and we went to live with Mum on the farm. (His mom, but she took me on as her own. She was the sweetest person i’ve ever known.)

It was the right thing to do. I calmed down measurably. I kept my drinking to the weekends when hubs would come and visit. I spent quiet days eating toast and drinking tea with Mum, sleeping, and… And what, i don’t actually don’t know. I was a cavalcade of people taking their place in my face and having their way with my thoughts and body. She accepted it all with gentleness and grace. She mothered my Bits N’ Pieces, and never spoke of it. When i brought it up to her years later, she told me she hardly noticed and every part of me was nice to her and she liked them all.
(Pardon me, friends, while i have a wee cry that she’s gone now, and i miss her so much in this moment.)

That’s a little better. Sister Jeannine was correct when she told me, over-and-goddamn-over, that tears are cleansing and healing. I would roll my eyes at her and she would laugh at me were she still with us.
Ah me, loss is such a bitch.
Sec. Gotta blow my nose.

Anyhoo, the man-thingy made it out to us 6mos later and we moved into the Little Crooked House across the road from Mum. The day my mania hit its apex i had been drinking (i’d returned to it once out of my mother-in-law’s house). I’ve written about what happened at length, and am happy to leave it done. I bring it up to say on that day i tore up our house. I broke things and threw things and did a significant amount of damage.

I’ve been crawling my way out of chaos and dysfunction since then.
Mr. Man works 12-14hrs a day, 6 days a week to support our family.
I turned my attention to raising my children while figuring out my brain and my past, as best i could.

Our house sat damaged; clean but unadorned. We took some of the money we made on the sale of the house and bought new furniture for the first time. I thought i was a post-modernist, minimalist. Ha. Turns out my taste runs to the somewhat masculine, my-living-room-looks-like-a-study, style. Huh. Okie doke. I found myself eyeing a large picture at the local hardware store. It was damaged, and i looked at it every time we went. For months it sat there, not selling, and finally offered the manager a price below what they were asking and he said Sold! We took it home and placed it above our fireplace.
It was my first picture.

Over my years of therapy with my best and current Ms T, i’ve picked up a wall clock and a few tchotchkes. Friends have kindly given me some of that LiveLoveLaugh kinda stuff that i see in other people’s homes. My boys made things at school that i proudly displayed on tables and shelves, and clinging to my refrigerator with magnets. I was almost like a normal, regular mommy. I’ve picked up a lot of mirrors over the years, and Mr. Man has hung a few here and there. (HGTV taught me it makes small spaces look bigger. They were right.)

About a year ago i was shopping at Ikea with my bestie. I’d been back in therapy for a while and was feeling better but worse, as one tends to do when one is doing the therapy thing, i think. Then i saw it. A large, unframed print of a Klimt painting. I love Klimt. No, i adore Klimt. It was one of my favourites, it was on sale. I thought about buying it, walked away, then made myself go back and grab it. I bought it quickly, with as little thought as possible, because i knew that’s what it would take for me to get it home. I also had my husband hang it that evening for the same reason. Progress, w00t!

Still and all, the damage i’d done all those years ago, stayed. The divots and scrapes and holes hung like stark pictures of my pain and failure; coloured in violence and shame. He works so hard i hadn’t the heart to ask him to help me fix it. Plus, i felt i deserved to be reminded of how horrible i can be, how sick and out of control. Bad H. A finger pointed and waggling, poking me hard in the chest. My reaping.

Cue pandemic.
He’s still working enough (so grateful), but his hours are cut and he’s getting some weekends off. Entire weekends, holy crap. He turns to me and asks if i’d like to fix up the bathroom. My eyes well up and i’m nodding as he’s talking about plaster and drywall and paint. He brings home an epic whack of swatches (he works in construction) and i get to choose! He fixes the massive chunk he cut out of the wall when we had a leak, and when i come back to see how things are progressing, i see he’s been patching and sanding outside the bathroom. He’s erasing the damage of my past actions.

Well, i’m a bit of a crybaby today.
Cleeeeansing, heeeealing, H.
Oh look, tears can act as lube for my eyerolling. There’s no click as i look at the back of my brain. Heh.

Work like this has taken me a long, loooong time, but i’m here, i’m doing it, and i’m HOME. We have plans for more paint, and yes, more pictures on the walls. If this madness continues, there may even be curtains, folks!

I’m on my way
Just set me free
Home sweet home…
~ Motley Crue, Home Sweet Home

Y’all hang in there now, y’hear?
Love and Peace,
~H~

*My mother also left things behind because she was slovenly and lazy, and hadn’t a shred of gratitude for anything she had, ever.

IMAGE: The Kiss, Gustav Klimt (1907/08)

 

Mindful Dreaming

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
~ Sigmund Freud

What? Not everything he said was shite. Even a broken clock and all that, amirite?

I’ve written about my dreams a number of times (nice and vague, cuz i can’t be arsed to check), and the time has come ’round again. My dreaming life has generally been full and often intense. I was treated for night terrors when i was around 5/6, and i still remember the worst of them in stark detail. Knowing what i know now, it’s easy to see what my brain was trying to puzzle out, as my sexual abuse began before i could speak, and was frequent until i was around 6. Then it slowed down some until my mother’s on-and-off relationship with the man i called Daddy fell apart for good when i was around 8, at which point it became sporadic.

Once the regular sexual abuse stopped, my switching behaviour also slowed down dramatically, and my dreams toned down, too. I started puberty far later than average, but when i did, i was once again dealing with sexual abuse, and it’s my belief that the dual stress is what led to a return of brutal and disturbing dreams. The dreams persisted until i left home at 18, returning as i came back home briefly, and again faced sexual and physical assault. They’d come and go as i was triggered, or trying some new therapy. To this day they occasionally plague me; a red flag for which i’ve become grateful.

When i finally entertained the possibility that i was a multiple, and began the long journey of figuring out the who, what, where, and whens of my childhood, studying my dreams extensively, helped. It was there that i realised that i needn’t recover any memories – they were all there every night in my dreams. Their subject matter, the way they played out as i slept, how i felt the next morning looking back on them… I couldn’t know these things and survive my environment, so my brain disguised them as dreams; keeping them safe until i was able to process their content.
Home movies i’d hidden in my attic.
Confirmation that i wasn’t crazy without cause.
Once i knew what they truly were, they became a part of my daily experience of myself as a person, and the dreaming of these memories stopped.

I kept dreaming, though. My brain is marvelous, and takes as good care of me as it can. It still communicates to me as i sleep, dancing and singing for me, lovely and terrible. My dreams reflect where i’m at mentally and emotionally. They can alert me to the stuff that’s going on behind the scenes that may require my attention. Dreams are a great processing tool for my brain to help me figure my shit out. It keeps on grinding away at various problems while i’m recharging my body’s batteries.

I don’t hold with anyone else analysing my dreams for me. I can usually figure out my own dreams, thanks. (This is one of the places where Dr. Freud needs to back TF up.) I’ve done enough inner work to know myself, and so it’s usually obvious what my dreams are saying to me. On the rare occasion that i wake up nonplussed, i have a method for interpretation that works well. A nun taught it to me years ago when i was in a halfway house run by the RCC. I write out the dream in first person, then i read through it and underline any words that jump out at me. I then take the underlined words and give them a personal definition, one by one. Once that’s done i’ve usually found some clarity.

Over the course of my life my dreams have been highly thematic. When i was very young i dreamed of a house filled with death, being pursued by a faceless evil thing, and being covered in bugs. The bug dreams were so terrifying that bugs became a lifelong phobia, so intensely so that even thinking i might have seen a bug could trigger a petit mal seizure (now commonly referred to as an absence seizure).* My dreams during adolescence and young adulthood were mostly about getting lost, and becoming separated from loved ones. The worst though, were the ones that mixed sex and death. Those were guaranteed to be followed by 1 or more sleepless nights, depending on severity.**

The last 15yrs or so, my dreams are generally about 1 of 2 things: It’s either the getting lost/losing loved ones dreams, or cleaning house/taking care of children. That second one might sound innocuous, but i assure you that it’s not. They’re the most emotionally draining dreams i’ve ever had (which, admittedly, could be due in part to the fact that i’m not as dissociative as i used to be). I’m in someone else’s house –before my happy estrangement from my parents’  families– and it’s messy, so i start tidying up. Instead of things getting better, i keep discovering more and more clutter, and eventually there’s filth everywhere i look and nothing i do seems to lessen it. Anyone else in the house with me is either oblivious or uncaring. These dreams can involve children. I start out caring for babies and toddlers, and am quickly bogged down with cleaning them and cleaning the house.

I’m not much for kids, to be frank. I love mine, i love my grandchildren. It’s not that i don’t like kids, although i used to think that’s what it was. It’s that being around children is one big triggerfest for me; i spend my time with them bracing for the next unintentional potshot. When i’m actively working with my system to improve my life and level of daily functionality, it’s worse.
In my dreams though, i love all of them. I’m happy to take care of them, even when they’re crying or covered in crap and needing a bath or generally running wild and misbehaving. I’m filled with love and i can feel how invested i am in their care. If there are other people in the house, they never help with the kids – i’m on my own. Sometimes i lose track of them and i’m running around the house frantically, trying to find them. In my dreams, once i lose someone i never find them again. Sometimes they grow bigger as i’m caring for them, which is fine, but other times they morph into something not quite human, and those are the worst dreams. No matter what the children are doing, anyone around me that’s adult gives precisely zero fux.

These dreams may not be nightmarish, but they’re exhausting. I wake from these feeling like i haven’t slept at all. I’m wrung out emotionally, mentally, physically.
And knowing myself like i do, it wasn’t hard to understand why i was having such dreams, and why they’d affect me in such a way.

The doctor who treated my Night Terrors as a child taught me a skill that instantly became invaluable, one that’s saved me countless times since. He taught me all about lucid dreaming. He told me how to figure out if i was dreaming or awake, which is what led to my realisation that some of my dreams were actually memories. He showed me how to wake myself up. Ms T (my therapist) says that a multiple’s mutant superpower is her imagination, and i think she’s correct. Everything that doctor taught me i understood with little to no explanation. When he told me i could fly away from the bad things in my dreams, i did it the very next time a night terror gripped me; i flew away and woke myself up. The ability to recognise that i’m dreaming ebbs and flows according to how i’m doing mental health wise, but once i know i’m in a dream, at the very least i can pull myself out of it. Sometimes the best i can do is pull myself into another dream, but at least i got out of the one i was trying to get away from.

And lately my ability has drastically increased.
I’ve been doing and saying things that i never have before, and some of it isn’t even a lucid choice i’m making. I see it as confirmation that this work i’m doing is taking root, it’s becoming a part of me and how my brain works.
I AM HEALING.

**********

Some cool dream stuff i’ve been doing lately:

I’ve stood up for myself to people who were treating me badly.

I’ve told my mom NO, and even told her off a few times. My mom! /mouth agape

I found my way back when i got lost in a mall. (Once i’m lost i’ve always stayed lost, wandering in maze-like places, never getting back to the place i wanted to be.)

And the children… I’m not losing them, they’re not getting dirtier or changing into something scary/gross. They stay with me and we have a good time. I’m suffused with love for them. Knowing i’m dreaming changes it not a whit.

Estranged/dead family members still pop into my dreams, but they don’t ruin me. Nothing they do goes unanswered. (I’ve always just taken it – in real life and in dreams.)

**********

I know this piece is a bit off the beaten path, even for me, but the way i see things, this is a big deal. My dream life has always been a huge part of who i am, and i find this change significant. It makes me feel good about the work i’ve done, and emboldens me to continue.
My dreams steadfastly refuse to forget what happened to me.
My dreams assure me that i’m not crazy for no reason.
My dreams keep telling me when there’s something terribly wrong, and t’isn’t me or my fault.

My precious, precious, marvelous, fantastical brain. I love it so.
Yes, it’s weird how i treat it like it’s my best friend and not quite me.
It’s weird and accurate.
Maybe one day i’ll be able to explain that, but for now, my brain art (dreams) is telling me i’m helping and all of me is feeling better.

Fanfreakingtastic.

They say that dreams are only real as long as they last. Couldn’t you say the same thing about life?
~ Waking Life (2001)

This freaky, overthinking weirdo wishes you the best of everything.
Hang in there.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*I was epileptic as a child; it’s now considered dormant.

**I’m not including the memories that came to me as dreams.

PICTURED: “Having a moment” in the movie, Waking Life.

Bird In Hand

I take the day in my hands and hold it like a little bird,
Sing baby, sing to me
Its heart beats staccato against my palm,
The sky fills with clouds at its trembling feathers
I set it free

I take my love in my hands and hold him with warm thunder,
Come closer, love me more
He expands to meet me, and his skin tears at the thin spots,
My heart comes down like a gavel
I set him free

I take my life in my hand and hold it like a filthy rag,
Leave me, i’m so tired
I see the paint, the spots worn through
My blood is umber stains on faded cloth
I tuck it back in my pocket

The world takes me in its hands and holds me like a little bird,
Hushabye, dear one, shhh
I see your pain and rage and promise, your terrible beauty
My heart explodes, my mouth opens in song
I am set free

Going Home

I’ve travelled far, a-wandering
I was not woolgathering
I was untethered, flying but unfeathered

I’ve given so, sincerely
I was not expecting
I was beseeching, despite the bleeding

I’ve borne it all, unconsciously
I was not indomitable
I was brokenly bearing, regal and lame

I’ve known you from the inside, dear
I was not your rival, love
I was ever your champion, and shall ever be

I’ve trysted with death, lingering
I was not infatuated
I was betrothed, but broke its bonds

I’m heading back now, the way i came
I was never one of them
I am the light, and shan’t bide their darkness

I’ve paid the price of entry, perchance
I was not aware there was a bounty
I was weary beauty, dropping coins like crumbs

I’ve set the wood alight
I was not the hearth, nay
I was the fire, and i burn

Elephants, Snakes, and Bears

Anxiety.
I haz it.
I don’t have a diagnosis, but i could probably get one. I figure what i’ve already got on my plate as a diagnosed bipolar/multiple is enough. Long ago i decided that i was just gonna deal with how my brain works, and not get bogged down with labels.

One thing that helped me come to that decision was the mental health care system in my area. I’d only dealt with social workers, therapists, and church counselors until i catapulted into my first full blown mania in my 30s. Then i was in and out of psych wards and a mental hospital, and put under the care of psychologists and psychiatrists, various and sundry. What i experienced wasn’t particularly helpful or pleasant. The diagnoses and medications would change depending on what doc was in charge that day. I’ve been called borderline, schizophrenic, narcissistic, chronically depressed (but no mania), hypochondriacal, even antisocial (the most patently ridiculous of them all).

The other thing that cemented my decision to at least try some less conventional treatments was aaaall the freaking druuuugs, man.* I’ve been summarily yanked off of medications that one should be weaned from. I’ve been placed on meds that have dangerous interactions with other meds i was currently on. I’ve had doctors treat the diagnosis that they gave me, with medications that are clearly meant for another diagnosis. One psychiatrist had me on 6 different medications, 3 of which were only for treating the side effects caused by the other 3.
And he wanted to put me on a seventh.

I went from a psych ward to a mental hospital, only to have the doctor in charge there change my diagnosis (and of course my meds), and treat me with a therapy that is directly contraindicated for how my brain really works. If you’ve been in and out of the system too, you might be like me and now do a lot of reading and research and vetting sources. I’ve had to learn to advocate for myself – i was getting regularly psychically concussed from all the pingponging done by the pros in the field. I was sick and tired and getting crazier rather than better.

I went to my family doctor, and she agreed to help me get off the meds i was on and find someone else to help me. I was using up the shelf life of my organs for no good results. The next drug being pushed on me was one that is notoriously zombifying. Why would i take it if none of the 20 others i’d tried had helped me at all?

I found my current therapist (Ms T) during this period. She specialises in treating multiples. As none of the doctors would touch the DID diagnosis with a 10′ pole (some spent time and energy lecturing me on the terrible mistake it had been to put it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and they hadn’t helped me manage living with Bipolar Disorder… Well, i was desperate, close to a more permanent sort of commitment to a care facility, and she would come to me at my house because i couldn’t leave it.
Kind of a no-brainer.

The DID controversy persists to this day. During the first few years of my work with Ms T, i still had to go to hospital for mental health care frequently. I knew the problems i was dealing with were a direct result of my dissociative issues, but i would only refer to being bipolar. I’d mentioned DID twice, and that’s all it took for me to learn not to bother. I could see their eyes glaze over and feel their emotional distancing.

All this to say, yeah, i’m anxiety-girl. It’s a bigger issue than dissociation right now. I’ve got a piano on my chest, and an elephant is bashing away at the keys with its trunk. Sometimes my heart feels like it’s being squeezed by an invisible hand, and sometimes it skips beats and feels as if it may tear out of my ribs, opening me up like poor old Kane on the Nostradamus. It can beat so fast it seems as if i must surely be having a heart attack. I can hear the blood rushing in my ears. My fingers get numb and tingly. I feel electric needles prickling at my breast, all the way through to the soft flesh near my shoulder blades.

I’m scared for my husband to go to work, and i’m scared for our once a week grocery trips. This Saturday, while i was waiting for him to catch up to me with the cart, i was gripped by an anxiety attack so bad i had to set my items down on the floor in front of at least a dozen people in line. I walked on rubbery legs to go sit on the grass at the far end of the parking lot, to run through my calming techniques for when i’m in the grips of it. He came and sat beside me, and asked What’s wrong?
I hissed at him and asked, What do you think?

Cluing in, he began running through all the reasons why i shouldn’t be worried, why it’ll all be okay. He’s done it before, bless his heart, and he might well do it again. The Copperhead living in my mouth struck before he could get on to statistics and Health Authority admonishments.

“ANXIETY IS NOT RATIONAL!!”
I asked him if he thought i wasn’t intelligent and informed. I asked him if he hadn’t been listening when we conversed on the subject of our current pandemic situation. I asked him if he remembered when i’ve told him that my anxiety doesn’t care about skepticism or experts or the scientific method or statistical data.
(I was snappish, but not verbally abusive, if you follow my blog and were wondering.)

The man knows when to slow his roll, and he did. He became gentle and soft. He smiled, said he was sorry, and asked how he could help. I told him that i don’t always know, but i do know that telling me he’s here and he cares is probably going to be a good place to start.
I bristle if someone starts asking me if i’m doing any of the things they may have heard help cope with anxiety. And don’t try logic, because my anxiety doesn’t respond to logic. Tell me you’re willing to help if i ask, but let me ask. Let me ask for help running through the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Let me ask for help with my yogic breathing. Let me ask for you to hold me or only my hand or place yours in the small of my back. Don’t ask questions – just tell me you’re here, and then be silent and mindful and as calm as you can manage.

I’m not going to write about the thoughts and feelings i was wrestling with, because i know a lot of us are, and i know i don’t need to bring them to mind again. You’ve got your worries and i’ve got mine and we’re all under enough stress. Let’s not poke the bear, eh? It starts bellowing and then that elephant will roll in with its cursed piano.
We both have trunks, but mine isn’t my shnozz. It’s my brain and there are all kinds of toys, treasures, tools, and yes, tricks in there.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else calls those little tricks and trip-ups. This is me and this is how my brain works.
It’s as simple as that.
Heh.

I’m not going to diagnose anyone else’s brain stuffs.
I’m not going to tell anyone else how it looks when you’ve been given a mental health diagnosis.
But i am going to reiterate, in case anyone else struggling with anxiety and panic in these strange and stressful times can relate:

My anxiety is not rational.

Hang in there as best you can. I’m doing the same. It’s messy AF, but i’m getting the job done.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*I’m not antidrug. I’m 100% for taking medications when and where a doctor and their patient make the decision to do so. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a medication suggested by the health care professionals i have on my team now. They know me, they know my lifestyle, what i’m capable of, and what my goals are – and i trust them all.

Oh Look, Stars

Peter Pan:
Jack, Maggie, all you have to do is think one happy thought, and you’ll fly like me.

Maggie:
Mommy.

~ Hook (1991)

What does one do when they get insight about something that they don’t have the time or energy to act on?
I’ve got all i can handle and then some – no more. But why else am i continuing this work, in spite of the world doing us dirty, if not for these moments? Epiphanies are a gift for the hardworking seeker. An ointment for the wounded wanderer. A Turkish coffee on a Monday morning. Like a birthday sparkler, it illuminates but briefly. Its magnesium flash leaves an imprint behind my psychic lids; i shall write of it before it fades.

My therapist (whom i now call Ms T) pointed out that my #1, most developed and powerful alter, was born out of my brain as a child. This means, despite her purpose in being created and how she presents, she is a child herself. As are all my Bits N’ Pieces.
They’re a child’s idea of what a grownup should be, but they aren’t adults. They’re children created in a child’s mind.
A revelation.

I carried that with me after our therapy session ended. It was all i could think about for hours. It flooded me with compassion for my system – something i’ve struggled with over the years i’ve been consciously interacting with them. It’s been a challenge to know them, and then to foster trust in them, so that i might take my proper place as Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of this whole shebang.
My crazy kaleidoscope of a brain.

While i was deep in thought and processing what i’d learned, my son checked in with me.
He’s grown and has been through more than i’d wish for him.
I’m thinking about how my people are kids, and it softens my heart. I see them in a way i hadn’t, heretofore. My son approaches me, looking for connection.

I’ve known for most of my children’s lives that i struggle with affection. I love them so much, but the abuse made me avoid touch.
I only figured that out through therapy, in retrospect.

So my youngest son is approaching me for physical contact. A hug. He’s my huggy bear. My older 2 weren’t as touchy. I don’t know if it’s the way they are or the way i made them. I will accept responsibility for whatever they discern…
The thing is, he’s always been affectionate with me, and has helped me overcome my fear of touch with his innocent, open, and consistent reaching out to me for connection.

I knew it was my job to meet him where he was at. This latest round of therapy has taught me how important that is to a child’s development. I’m learning that connection is everything. Whether good or bad develops from it is not the lesson for me. My children will be, regardless of my influence, who they choose to be. It doesn’t matter if their choices are conscious and informed or not. I don’t know if it’s fair or not, either.
I’m just here –in all my glorious imperfection– to help where i can. That involves acknowledging my flaws and shortcomings.

My mother never said sorry to me, not one time.
Years ago i figured out how much an apology would’ve meant to me.
I’d have let it all go in an instant. I just wanted her to love me. I’d have forgiven her anything and everything.
It dawned on me, and i saw how children need to connect as much as they need to eat. More, even.
And then i saw my greatest failing as a parent.

I was unable to meet my children in their most vulnerable place. The place inside them where they needed my touch: loving touch, comforting touch, supportive touch, playful touch, healing touch. I couldn’t touch my children often enough, or deeply enough, or meaningfully enough. And i wonder what that’s done to them. I think on their personalities, and i must consider that their common threads may be because they needed more touch from me than i gave them. None of them are an open-book type – just like me. They are all intensely private and somewhat introverted – like me. They’re guarded, they have a somewhat negative view of humans, they aren’t terribly surprised by the darker sides of human nature, they all enjoy gallows humour, they bond with only a very select few.
Just like me.

Look, i’m not saying these qualities are good or bad ones.
I’m also not saying i was a terrible parent. I neglected them in ways, and i failed them utterly in others. I think most parents do to some degree. None of us are perfect. I think our job as parents is to be good enough. That’s it; we’re all flawed humans who bring our baggage into all our relationships. I know that i did my best. Unfortunately, i’m not sure my best was good enough.
That’s for my children to judge though, not me.

The thing is, as i learn and grow and heal from the terror i lived through as a child, i would be remiss if i didn’t also cast a critical eye on my own parenting. I’m still their mom and will always be, even when we are separated by death. I will be as good a mom as i can be, and as i become more this/less that and just a better and more useful human, so too will that include my role as mother.
As i put myself back together after being torn apart by my own parents, my capacity to fulfill that role for my precious boys will expand, and i will fill all the new spaces inside me with love and light.

I may not have been a terrible mom, but i will be a better and better mom until the day i cease to be anything but a memory.

That now includes being physically available to them, whenever they want it from me. Not just hugs, but physical warmth. Consoling and soothing touch. Play, too.
I may be late addressing the need, but my hope is that it’s not too late.
I will be physically available to meet them where they’re at, and i will provide motherly connection.

Connection with my children.
I have the time and energy for that, FOR THEM, no matter what.

So I know I’m not alone
When I’m here on my own
Isn’t that a wonder?
When you’re alone
You’re not alone
Not really alone

~ John Williams, When You’re Alone (Hook)

Wrung Out

I’m crying everyone’s tears
I have already paid for all
my future sins
There’s nothing anyone
can say to take this away
It’s just another day
and nothing’s any good
I’m the king of sorrow
~ King of Sorrow, Sade

I’m suddenly empty inside. Numb. I’m angry and sad and i want to crawl under the covers and eat/drink/drug myself into a coma. I want to be on the outside like i am on the inside. Empty, cavernous, echoing. There are tears on the inside, but they flow slowly down the sheer rockface of my organs and guts. Erosion too slow to be of any note. I remain hard and implacable here.

Whispers flutter up from the deep of me, like little birds that fly into the garage and can’t escape. The door is open, but their panic blinds them. The ceiling is not the sky and they flap around in the corners, their tiny fluffy chests heaving. When i try to help them, say gently shoo them with a broom, it only gets worse. I’ve learned to leave them be, and they’ll eventually make their way out on their own.

I wonder if that’s the answer for the ones caught inside me. I try to focus in on them. I try to find mercy inside me, or grace, but all i can muster is a detached kind of concern. It’s like when an ambulance races by on the highway – i hope the people involved will be okay, but i don’t know them and can’t help them, so that’s as far as i go with it. My casual wishing fades with the sound of the siren.
This is not dissociation – this is emotional flatness.
This isn’t me in any of my iterations.

I am HistrionicaButterfly. Intense, dramatic, passionate. Full of thought and art and creation. I talk i make i hold i care i trytrytry. But i’m sitting here made of stone on the inside. I’ve become a damp cave, with little light and less warmth.

I’m looking at the entirety of my childhood, and i’m wrung out. All the emotions are still there –the various and varying levels of anger and sadness and pain– bits of beak and feather flapping about in a tizzy. I watch from a hard distance. I feel mostly meh, although i sense danger is close by.
I’m standing on ice, and if it cracks, i’ll plunge into the glacial waters of fear that flow through me. Rivers that have carved deeply into me. They rush over me and overflow my banks in their season.

I don’t know if i’m relieved or grateful or if i feel anything at all about it.
I’m dispassionate, and this is not me.
This is the work and i’m doing it.
I check in and stay in it and ask questions and address needs.
I use the tools i have and try new ones too.
I make small adjustments. I get quiet and listen some more.
And then i do more and other things. I give my body what it’s asking for, and i care for the broken off bits of me that bounce around in my head.

I try to stay anchored in the real world. I sleep, i eat, i shower, i cook and clean. I have mundane conversations with those who live here with me. I play mindless games and watch silly programs to distract me from the thing that is happening inside me. I’m turning into a zombie. I do what’s in front me; i keep moving forward. One shuffling foot in front of the other. Neither careless nor carefree. A Borg cut off from The Collective. I wander around inside my Cube with purpose, but minus something that once tethered me. What gravity have i lost?

What me is this, this colourless, tepid thing?

Keep flying for you
Keep flying I’m falling falling
And I’m falling falling
And I’m falling falling
I’ve given you all that I have
I show you how I want to live
How could I love you more
~ No Ordinary Love, Sade

Dosing

 Trying not to do too much, but it’s harder than i thought it’d be. My mood is lighter, too. What strange alchemy is this, brain? I’m usually sad and anxious all the time.

You and I are underdosed and we’re ready to fall
Raised to be stupid, taught to be nothin’ at all
~ Marilyn Manson, I Don’t Like The Drugs

I’ve been slowly and carefully experimenting with CBD and THC edibles over the last year or so.* I have a drug history, and my history with marijuana is that i have a low tolerance for its effects, unfortunately including paranoia. So while i’ve been hearing for years from many sources that it might provide me some relief with, pain, with insomnia, and with anxiety, i’ve been hesitant to try. I hadn’t had any for, i don’t know, maybe 6yrs (?) This last bout of therapy though –lemme tell ya, man– it’s been a tough go. It’s increased my fibromyalgia symptoms, and my anxiety has become nearly unmanageable.

I’m an ex-smoker for over 20yrs, and i don’t want to test my success by returning to something one smokes. Even vaping seems like too much of a risk. Edibles it is, then. I started low and slow. I’ve experimented enough that i know i still don’t like to take much. As soon as i feel stoned, i’m paranoid. I can ride it through, because i’m excellent at talking myself through stuff, but i already have to do that enough, mmkay? I’m working with very low doses. I prefer Sativa THC, because it doesn’t weigh down my body, and i can get things done. The Indica helps me sleep better, and the heaviness in my limbs is welcome at bedtime. I was given some tinctures to sample, and have discovered that Sativa drops taken therapeutically during the day can help with my anxiety. If i wake from a dream during the night, i struggle to get back to sleep – Indica drops seem somewhat successful here.

I’ve been skeptical about CBD, but i’ve had better results when the gummie contains both, rather than just the THC. I was gifted with a sample of straight CBD capsules, and after conversations with some who have both knowledge and experience, plus a bunch of reading, yesterday morning i took one. It’s a high dose, close to as much as i’d ever take of the THC, but i had my hubby home to keep an eye on me.

The first thing that happened was i wanted to sleep. That’s not a common reaction, but as a bipolar multiple, that’s not uncommon for me. Sometimes, stimulants make me tired and depressants get me wired. I thought it might be because my anxiety was markedly less, which has been so intense over these last few weeks (i know i’m not alone in this) that my sleep has been for shit. My fibro pain level had dropped, which might also be a result of the relief it was giving me in the anxiety department.

My pain was much easier to manage for the rest of the day. Today it still seems lower than usual, although i can feel it creeping back up to regular levels. I’m not sleeping well, or nearly enough, but still… For most of the day i didn’t feel like i was one twist of the elastic away from a snap.
I’ve felt that way most days for months and months and months.

So is it the drugs? Is it the not-a-drugs? Is it in my head? Is it all this work i’ve done and i’m just having a breakthrough that coincides with my CBD capsule?
Don’t know. I’m just sayin’.
I don’t know if it’s helping for sure, or not.
I’m definitely not promoting the use of cannabinoids, whether from marijuana or hemp. I just share my journey and what i’m doing and if it’s working or not.

The previous was written over the long weekend.
I took another capsule yesterday morning. I woke up in a typical amount of fibro pain. I’d slept, but it was only decent relatively speaking. My anxiety and pain dropped much lower as it had the last time. I was in a foul mood, but it was about other stuff; my anxiety didn’t make the problem worse, and my body pain didn’t make it harder to handle. I’ll take that. Purchased some more CBD-only edibles to continue testing.

I thought about whether or not to post about this, but in the end, i’m about telling it like it is on this blog. As it stands, i’m not convinced it’s helping at all, let alone helping enough to justify the cost. I will be continuing to experiment and track my results as best i can for the foreseeable future.
I won’t be using tags in this post, because i’m not selling anything, and i’m not interested in buying, either. And i won’t be anyone’s spokesperson. I won’t accept anyone else’s products. I won’t be giving any reviews of anyone’s products.
And NO, no one has my permission to use any of what i write in my blog, unless you’ve specifically asked me and i’ve specifically said yes to you, and to what words, specifically.
K?
Kk.

Omg, i want choco Frosted Flakes so much right now…

I don’t like the drugs but the drugs like me

*Legal in my country, just so ya know.

The Drop

I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

After my dear Ms T (i talk about my therapist so much, let’s give her a name) checks in with my current state, she goes over how i was switched and hung up on her during our last phone session. She asks me who i thought it might be that swatted the Little who was talking to her away, and then yelled at her and hung up.
She doesn’t usually ask me who was in the face in my absence.

For one, i often have no idea, and for another, none of us are inclined to give their names. We do so exceedingly rarely, and it tends to be delivered with not a little hostility. Even when i’m talking with my husband, who knows them all, i’ll use their role/job, rather than their names. It makes something twist up inside me to use their proper names. Like guitar feedback – and not the cool Jesus-and-Mary-Chain kind. It’s more like when your 12yr old is jamming with his friends in your garage.

I tell her i don’t know.
She asks me if i’d be willing to share with her what popped into my head when she asked me. I told her, but no name, only her role. I won’t be sharing either here, but i will say she is the #1 in the system: most developed, most power, most functional… most like me.

What followed is a bit on the hazy side, which is what happens when Ms T hits on something close to someone in my system. What i mean is, i tend to stay on track with my therapy sessions unless someone else who lives in my brain is triggered. If that happens, i feel myself getting pulled back, and i know someone is trying to pass me along the way, to get in the face. It’s like in a scary movie when the woman finally realises it’s the person she’s with, that she’s trusted the most, that’s killing everyone. When the camera pulls back for a long and wide shot – who knows, maybe i’m even wearing the same expression of dawning horror. /jk

It’s one way to describe how it initially feels during all the levels of dissociation that occur for me, as a multiple. First, there’s the initial receding, and then the numb and floaty feeling that comes with basic dissociation. I’m in a dopey, dreamy state here. Then there’s what i call sliding, where i’m not quite switched, but parts of my system are in the face, and i’m watching what’s happening without being able to affect my own actions. It’s a little like being the new baby at a family gathering – i get tossed around a bit. A full switch is where i can feel a violent pull back. It’d be like if the ocean of space inside my brain where all of them manifest were a pregnant woman. I feel a hard tug, right where my baby’s joined to me. I can share this weird analogy because my first son shot out of me like a football. The doctors weren’t anticipating a first timer to be done in 4hrs, so they were on the other side of the room, talking.

My doc said, OMG, the baby’s head is crowning! and ran over to catch. She did, but the fact that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my son’s neck and shoulders might have helped. I felt a pull on the inside so hard and strange; i could almost hear the boi-yoi-YOING! sound. Like if we were joined by a bungee cord.
You’re welcome for that image.
I’m saying switching comes from the baby-feeding belly-tube of my momma-brain.
K, i’m done. RLY.
Heh.

Back to my hazy recollection of my therapist and i discussing who flicked the wee one away and took her place.
I’ve been working on cutting down on the amount of time between her questions and my answers. There’s pressure to keep my mouth shut from many directions, but i have enough power to push up against it harder than before, i think. Like the football player in training pushing that sled just a little further each time.
I have a leftover impression of pressing myself to speak the answer as soon as i have it.
I’m not a fan of speaking without thought. It’s been my personal experience (so, not necessarily yours) that that can lead to a lack of proper skepticism. I’ve also seen the practise used overwhelmingly by those to whom i’d never go for help/healing.
I’m referring to practitioners of pop psychology (subjective), and to the religious (objective), and i mean no offense.
This is just life as me, making the best choices i can based on who i am, my life experiences, and what i want.
Your mileage will vary.

Having some trouble getting to my point today.
There’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on in this old noggin since that session 4days ago.
I’ll stop writing cute analogies, and just write what i know. It’ll be choppy, without my typical smooth transitions.
You may snort here.

This part of my system we talked about is basically my Number One. She’s task-driven, intimidating, sarcastic, grouchy, gruff and take charge. She’s the most protective over me, and when pushed, her words are nothing short of caustic. As i’ve written about though, she and i have both retired our ninjamouth ways. Still, i would have described her as one tough customer.

And then Ms T asks if it’s occurred to me that she’s probably somewhere around 6yrs old.
I remember it feeling a bit like looking down at a glass floor when you’re standing in a tower. It felt like i was going to slide back further (fall), but i didn’t.
I looked down and i saw HER, and i saw that she is a child.
And then it was like a drop tower at an amusement park.
I saw that they are all children, regardless of the age they affect.
They were all born when i was very small; how could they be anything but? They’re reflections of whatever age they claim to be; merely a manifestation of what i thought a rebellious teenager or provocative twentysomething or kind uncle or hardworking mother would be like.

I’m the only real grownup who lives in my brain.
All of the rest of me are children.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Happy Sunday,
~H~

Toes In The Grass

The sadness i embrace is ever present
so very deep
It eeks from my bones and suffuses my flesh with its chill marrow
traveling the rivers of my body, bobbing along in my blood
Morose and resigned
stopping my heart over, and over again
I gasp in pain, wanting to run from it
to drown it in wine
I want to return to the Land of the Dead, where i’ve dwelt all my life
I’ve felt this sadness already, and the pain
But no
Not like this
That was all the voices crying out in my brain, wanting to be heard
to be seen, to be known
That was brain pain.

Now my body cries out from the acres of death where it dwells
No more to be a dead thing encased in living flesh
a golem from the past
I send out tendrils of warmth and light from the Upper Room
They float down the stairs and illuminate the spaces that were once flat blackness
a nice enough place
Needs a bit of work
The rooms are crumbling, although they’ve never been lived in
Like Chinese malls.

Too old to not yet have lived in this body
I was born in a riptide, barely keeping my head above the water
Mindlessly, mechanically,
moving my way through the rushing of the water
Fighting the current that never stopped
sucking at me
One day i grew strong
and broke free of my prison
Building a boat out of hope, i sailed the vast sea of my mind
I charted its waters until i grew bored
Letting the wind and the waves plot my course
I thought i’d found peace
But mystery beckoned me from the shores
The smell of the air promised fresh adventures
I jumped off the bow
and swam for the shore
Dolphin-slicing expertly through the currents.

I stand up on the beach and look round
The sand is not much warmer than the water
Perhaps the green i can see ahead is as warm as it looks
I walk slowly up towards it
When i crest the embankment i stop
My feet step into the grass
It’s warm, it’s wonderful, and i scrunch my toes into its
Toes
I have toes
I look down and see my feet
Feet!

And i gasp myself awake
Only not awake
Not dreaming
My window has crashed inward from the storm raging outside
I’ve been struck alive by a bolt of lightning
What was dead now lives
The tendrils of warm light coming down from the attic illuminate the first floor of my house
I’m sitting in an old chair that’s never entertained a guest
Life is pain, and i ache to find it so
I shudder with the power of the pain that fills me
The sobs that shake me
like water from a paintbrush
The light moves past me, fluttering and waving along
Curious to explore other rooms
Every step, every movement,
Every moment brings pain
But i follow
I follow the light.