Dear Diary: I Gotta Be Me

I’m starting to write this thinking it’ll be more diarising, but it might just swerve into the regular post lane. Off we go and let’s see what happens, eh?*

I couldn’t hold all the emotions around the decisions i’d made regarding these 3 relationships. To lay them down and stop trying. To let people be who they are, do what they’re going to do, and keep on truckin’. I’m stuck in this house in near total lockdown, because someone in our family is at significant risk for hospitalisation and death if they contract the virus. I can’t get away from triggers. (THEY are my triggers.) I can go for walks, but i can only walk so far for so long, and it gets mighty cold where i live.

So i’m feeling trapped and lonely and fed up and sad… And i switched. I lost a day or so. My system pushed forward to take care of me when i was at a weak moment. I used and i (THEY) spilled my damn business to my husband. I wasn’t there, but i know how it goes, and i imagine they left no stone unturned. I’ve got parts that would’ve read him the riot act, and parts that would’ve been soft, sweet, and vulnerable. Oh, and then there are parts that would have been subtly manipulative and vaguely threatening. All designed to take care of us and get our needs met.

These days i use “I” and “me” more often than not. It connotes a feeling of the control i now have over my system. I have an awareness that’s more than intellectual, that all these parts are me. I’m like a box of puzzle pieces that suffered water damage. I’ve got the thing mostly put together, but some of the pieces are warped and keep popping out a little. But this weekend was a “we” and “us” situation – no doubt about it. I switched for nearly a day, and then i slid around for a couple more. On Sunday the urge to let the switching happen and the using continue was so strong that i kept myself heavily medicated in order to sleep through the worst of it. It’s not ideal but it worked.

Monday i took it fairly easy on myself, knowing there would be lots of grumping around up there in my brain. They’re children and they pout and whine for things. They like the escape that being under the influence of drugs provides, and they like how it loosens my control on their activities, i.e. they can take the face when they wish. No thanks, dear ones. The plug is in the jug.

What happened was what i knew would happen. He has asked for another chance and promised to change; to make a concerted effort. I’ve heard all this many times before. I’m still earning my way out the door, but i’ve had a wee epiphany, i think.
I love those — they’re always helpful.

I had this thought: I’m working so damn hard to know who i am and who i’m not. To be more authentically and fearlessly myself. And man, this is who i am. I want this relationship to work and there’s nothing wrong with me continuing to hope. I’ll keep hoping until i’m walking out the door… Probably longer than that. It’s not shameful and embarrassing –i mean, it IS– but it needn’t be. I grew up with constant rejection, and carry the awful weight of that everywhere, all the time. It’s the weight of believing i’m not good enough and who would want me? (Toobigtooloudtooweird.) It’s also my parents’ indoctrination that has me focused on my flaws and my shortcomings, and heaps blame on me for those, while asking me who do you think you are? when i shift my focus to theirs.

How dare you?! You should be grateful they tolerate your miserable, useless presence.

Yeah. Self-talk is a good time around here. /sarcasm

It has gotten much better. I’ve come quite a distance, but at a time like this, i’m flying in the face of everything my abusers taught me. The training is still there. It’s a reflex – like breathing. But i’m doing my best to be mindful and present, and i address all the internal commentary. It’s exhausting; it’s necessary.

I’m back in therapy. Not because i’ve gone off the deep end, but because i don’t want to, and i need a little extra help. She grounds me. She told me today that new research by neuroscientists has been able to prove DID’s etiology. The cause is childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect. It’s not like we multiples and our caregivers didn’t know that, but being able to prove it scientifically is important. The stigma within the psychiatric community is still significant. The way it’s portrayed in media is damaging. Those working on tracing its causes and attempting to understand how it works neurobiologically are helping to change things.

So she says to me there is a provable cause for DID, and something inside me just… relaxes. I’m in my mid-50s, and i’m always wrestling with the voice that asks me, Why are you not over this? Why are you still so messed up?

This information reassures me that my response to trauma was not overblown, nor my pain and suffering over-inflated. I make jokes about being Queen Emoterella of Drama Island, but what i grew up in was extreme, and it happened during the most pivotal and formative of my (or anyone’s) life. Most people who’ve been through what i’ve been through aren’t doing as well as i am.
If they’re even still here.
And that’s just the truth.
And i needed her to tell me again, and tell me why, and tell me i’m doing great, and lay some more knowledge and a couple new coping skills on me.
She never disappoints.
We ZOOM again in a month.

The overarching conclusion that i’ve come to after this weekend’s shenanigans, is not so much about losing control, or using, or even needing to connect with my therapist to remember that it’s okay to be where i’m at today. What i’m taking away from all this is more important to the work i’m doing, and it’s come at the right time.

I am done trying to be anyone other than me. Not that i won’t still struggle sometimes — i’m a multiple and this shit is entrenched. But i know who i am now, and also who i’m not. I’m through simpering around, walking on eggshells, trying to please the people around me, trying to be accepted, to be liked/loved/desired. I’m done explaining myself. I’m done apologising for things that don’t require one. I’m done trying to placate people. I’m done exposing my soft underbelly to people who’ve repeatedly hurt me. If you don’t want the kind of relationship i want, if you aren’t willing to give as much as you’re expecting, well, i guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

This may all sound very glib and even powerful, but i assure you it is not. I’m deeply upset that these relationships have come to this. Upset… But still hopeful.
What can i tell ya?
I’m a hopeful girl.

Y’all Hang in There.

*Definitely diary stuff.

IMAGE: Jackson David

Talking To Myself

WARNING: Light reference to suicidal thoughts.

I’m feeling a little better the last couple of days. I’m becoming familiar with this cycle, so i’ve decided to take a hard look at it, not to tweak it, but to find some peace in it. See, at the end of it, i beat the everloving crap outta myself because “i did it again”. I’d like to change that part of it, at least for a start.
There may be some other changes i could make in the future, but if my success over compulsive eating and weight issues is any indication, a kind of acceptance needs to come first. It’s not giving myself over to inevitability (screw you, Mr. Smith), it’s more of an acknowledgement of who i am and where i’m at.
Without that, it seems to make shame and frustration even more of an anchor for me. A millstone. To see where i’m going, i must first look at where i am.

I’m starting with the fact that i’m here at all, which is a good thing.
Next, i’m not the person my mother intended me to be, which is a very good thing.
Also, i have a loving and supportive partner, children, and even a couple of friends, which is excellent.
And, although the list could be longer, let’s finish with the fact that i have a therapist who’s helping me know who i am and work towards being more of who and what i want to be.
Astounding.

The cycle seems to work like this:

– Drag myself up out of the pit,
– Struggle to stand,
– Take a couple of shaky steps,
– Stop and rest,
– Take a few steps more,
– Rest again,
– Start walking a little faster and farther,
– Force myself to stop for a rest,
– Walk more often and with fewer and shorter stops in between,
– Fall into a pit.

There’s some nuance missing there, but that’s nutshelling it well, i think. The bit that doesn’t quite fit into the steps is the part where i’m embarrassed and ashamed that i fell into a pit again. I feel guilty, like i’ve failed my family and myself – including my system. I’m disgusted with, and disappointed in myself.
I see the pit as failure.
I see my level of functionality (or lack thereof) at my age as pathetic.
I see myself as far behind my peers.
When i get particularly low, the feelings can stray into self-hatred and hopelessness, which has, at times lately, brought about thoughts of suicide. Not making-a-plan suicidal, but i-can’t-do-this-anymore, and my-loved-ones-would-be-better-off-without-me stuff.

So, not where i need to getteth mine asseth to thine infirmary, posthaste. Still and all, not a good place to be, and one that can lead me down darker avenues.*

Me: Here’s the thing though, H, what else could you do?

Also Me: I could push harder, take more steps, do more things.

Me: Could you though? I mean, haven’t we tried that, like, a LOT?

Also Me: Yes but, at my age i should be able to handle this stuff.

Me: Should you? Says who?

Also Me: Well, at my age… Hell, folks a helluva lot younger than me have their shit together.

Me: Yeah, some of them probably do, but i’ll bet a lot of them just look like they do.

Also Me: True, but i’m getting older, and with each passing year, my opportunity to be the person i want to be gets smaller and smaller.

Me: That’s the way it is for everyone.

Also Me: I know that, smartass, but my window’s starting to look like the upstairs scary eyes ones in the Amityville Horror.

Me: Small, and split apart. Funny.

Also Me: It’s a gift. Listen, my children are grown and i have grandchildren. I should be further along my path by now. I can’t seem to stop falling. Even if i don’t fall into a pit, i trip and get root rash on my face.

Me: I know. It hurts and sometimes it’s obvious, which can suck, but you’ve found a way to make some good out of it.

Also Me: *sigh* I wanted to leave behind a better legacy than that.

Me: Like what? Sure, you could have been somebody. You could have been a contender. But at what cost? Our system would have certainly paid the biggest price. You could have been a very successful person who would have remained incredibly broken and in pain on the inside: Famous, rich, respected –whatever you dreamed of– a success by current world standards… So? Would that person be who you really are, though?

Also Me: *deepersighpluseyeroll* No. I would have had to completely shut down parts of myself. Pretend my childhood never happened. Never acknowledge the people who live in my brain who saved my life. Inauthentic at best – a complete lie at worst.

Me: Right. So this is the price you’ve paid to be a real live girl. You had a huge mess to clean up before you could stop being wooden and start being flesh. A mess you didn’t even make.

Also Me: But it’s taken so long to get HERE, and i’m still not THERE yet.

Me: You’re never going to get there. No one does. You just get as close to it as you can with the time you have.

Bits of Me: When you take too big of steps, we can’t keep up. We’re too little. You make us scared and we cry. Also, we’re hungry. Can we have a cookie now?

I guess i’m just going to keep plugging away at this. This is how i’ve learned to do it. Maybe there was another, better way, but i can’t go back and do things differently. This is what i have to work with, this cycle. I may always have to take baby steps. I may always fall into a pit, here and there.

My legacy is that i will always claw my way up out of the pit, even if it’s just to fall into another one later on. I’ll be further along my path. A few steps is better than no steps. I will always try to learn more and live more true, so that i might be, do, and give, MORE.
It may not be much, but it’s real. I may not be much of a success by the world’s current standards, but my Bits N’ Pieces trust me, love me, and look up to me. I have a family that loves and forgives me. I want for nothing. I may wear a mask sometimes, but it’s not on purpose, and everyone who knows me, knows about the masks, and they don’t mind. And if the people who matter to me don’t mind that i fall into pits and wear various masks, why should i?

Time for cookies.

Love and Peace To You,
~H~

*I know what to do to manage these thoughts, and i do these things. I don’t hide them inside my brain, where they might grow and fester. I talk – i tell safe people. I check my daily self-care. I call my therapist. And i have gone to the ER, seen my personal GP, and even checked myself into The Bin where necessary. Whatever it takes, i do it.