The last couple of weeks i’ve found myself experiencing strong emotions very quickly. For a while there, i wondered if i was manic, but i can’t tick off any other box on the list of common symptoms. Good then, i’m not in a bipolar mania. What seemed the most likely culprit then, was a low spoon count, meaning i’m dealing with many different things, with a limited amount of energy. It made good sense, and i felt better.
But not all the way better. I still felt like i was missing something, and while i was unsettled, i figured as long as i was still doing the work, the answer would eventually come.
I was, and it did.
I was frustrated at the end of each day. The day seemed unfinished, as if i hadn’t done enough. My list of activities and accomplishments looked good. It was in line with what i’d been doing lately, everything that’s important to me to do, was getting done. Personal hygiene, housework, writing, healthy eating, a bit of exercise, connecting with other humans; it was all there.
I asked myself if i wasn’t pushing too hard. Again, it’s about mania. I need to take self-improvement fairly slowly, lest i trigger one. My manias last a loooong time, and take longer still to recover from. I get a rush from being higher functioning, and i feed on it like a drug.
Was that it, was i feeding on accomplishment?
Well, the short answer is Yes, but no.
It came to me while walking and thinking about writing.
I walk most mornings, as i enjoy it, and my dogs need it, and it gets my day off to a good start.
We live on a farm, and it’s quiet and peaceful, a pastoral paradise. The perfect time to think about things i’d like to write about, and that’s exactly what i was doing the other day. I was thinking about how i’ve been sharing my new level of maturity, how i can feel that i’m “coming into my own.”
As a writer, i enjoy using idioms to convey meaning to my readers. I’ll often double check the definition to make sure i’m using it correctly. So when i got home from my walk, i looked it up.
Come in to your own: to be very useful or successful in a particular situation.
And that’s when it came to me.
I could be MORE useful.
I am capable of more than what i’m currently doing.
I’ve been feeling unsettled because i am unsatisfied.
I want more, and i believe i’m qualified for the job.
I’m due for a promotion.
The reason it occurred to me while i was thinking about writing, is that i’ve been feeling the urge to do more with my writing. I’ve known for some time that my blog needs some work. It’s not very intuitive, it’s not overly welcoming to repeat visits, and i’m not reaching enough people. It needs a makeover before i can expand my writing and reach a wider audience.
This revelation was slow and difficult coming, because i don’t think i’m much of a writer. I have found my voice, which is good. I like that when my friends read my stuff, it’s just like talking to me. That’s what i wanted, so i’ve got that going for me.
The thing is, i think i’m a good communicator, a good talker, but not a good writer. I thought this little blog with a few quiet followers was my lane, and i should stay in it; this was the most i dared hope for.
When i started blogging, i was highly dissociated most of the time. I barely finished high school and have had no further formal education. I came into it knowing that i had a decent command of the language and sometimes i could write something that was deep, impactful, and well said. While journalling, which i’ve done on and off since i was first put in counselling as a youngster, i would occasionally write something that impressed me. If it hadn’t been a journal, i might have shared it. As it was, i was mostly telling the social worker what they wanted to hear, careful never to say anything that would get me in trouble. My mother read EVERYTHING. I learned early not to tell the truth about my situation even in a diary, because she’d always find it, and i’d always get a beating when she did.
The advent of the internet brought blogs. I was fascinated to learn that people were actually sharing their diaries with others. Online. Like, in public. You put it out there and let people read it, and they let you read theirs. It was counter to everything i was raised with, and i was drawn to it like the proverbial moth.
Maybe it doesn’t make much sense, but i always wanted to tell my story. I’ve always wanted to be known. The problem was it went against everything i was taught:
What happens in our home is private. Others wouldn’t understand. Don’t talk too much, and when you do, only tell them what they want to hear. Don’t answer any question directly; obfuscate, distract, dangle red herrings, LIE.
I did all those things, but my true desires leaked out on occasion. When someone initiated a friendship with me (because i almost never did that myself – fear of rejection, doncha know) it wouldn’t be long before i said too much. Even when i wasn’t oversharing, i’m just, i dunno, clumsy in my social interactions. If you want to be friends with me, be prepared for cringe moments and awkward silences. If you can’t roll with that, we’re probably not a good fit.*
But the internet was making friendships easier and more likely. There was the safety of anonymity, so i could share as much or as little as i wanted, and there was an endless supply of new prospects if i cocked it up. At first my friendships online mirrored my real life ones. I would push too hard, too soon, and offer too much of myself too early. They’d either pull away or disappear entirely, and i’d be devastated and embarrassed. Gradually though, i learned to take things a little slower. Plus, the speed at which i ran through internet associations and groups had lessened the sting of rejection. Eventually, i stumbled across a group of people with a shared interest that accepted me as one of their own, many of whom i’m still friends with to this day, nearly 20yrs later. They became my safe place to learn how to be a good friend.
It was through this group i discovered blogging. Many of them had one, and i joined them on a popular blog site, set up my own, and started posting. Initially i kept it light and silly, mostly little questionnaires and ranting about things that irritated me. In my real life though, my mental health had gotten entirely out of control. I was in and out of hospitals, with rotating p-docs and meds to boot. My blog then shifted into purging. I was drowning in chaos, and i went there to vomit up my past. I told the story of my childhood for the first time, outside of therapy situations.
After years of searching, i found a therapist i could work with, and settled into the business of putting myself back together. When i returned to my blog, i was horrified and mortified at what i found there (i’d been highly dissociated throughout), and promptly locked it down. By that time social media had become a thing, so i found connection there instead. Most of my group had moved there too, and i hung out with them, while continuing on my path. Some of them kept blogging, and i came here when i decided i wanted to try again.
This blog is not about telling the story of my childhood. Here, i’ve focused on sharing how i’ve learned to live with what happened to me, and been able to improve my functionality, thereby enjoying better quality of life and even some happiness. I want to be known, yes, and i have a deep desire to help others. My blog is one of the ways i do that.
We return now, to the dissatisfaction i mentioned at the beginning of this post.
There is a confluence of events: me itching to do more and actually being capable of doing so. I’ve made good friends who know me, who also know a thing or 2 about blogs, and can help me. Also, i’ve managed to overcome enough fear and flaws that i’m ready to learn, and able to seek out and absorb the plethora of information and experience that’s out there. At last!
To sum up, changes are in the works. I don’t know at what pace, but it won’t be all of sudden, that’s for sure. I’m a babystepper. I tweak things and try them out to see if i like them. I’ll be smoothing some things out and polishing them up. My reading list has grown exponentially. I’m intimidated, but excited. I’m afraid to fail, but undaunted. I’m expecting tears and tantrums and still i am resolute.
I’ll still be writing and posting; i’ve almost finished a couple of pieces right now, and they’ll be up soon.
I will still be odd and clumsy and histrionic.
I’m a lot, and these days i don’t much mind.
I hope you stick around.
Love and Peace, Always,
* I have a post in the works that deals with this. Trying to figure out how to connect with other humans is a common theme around here.
IMAGE: Alex Lee
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?
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.
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
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;
– stay the course regarding eating/exercise goals;
– 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
Today i feel like updating. Most of it’s positive, with a brief vignette of unhappiness that might yet turn out well. Off we go.
I worried for many years (especially when i read old journals) that i would never change. I saw the same problems cropping up and kept finding myself back at what i thought was square one. I know now that wasn’t true, it was only that i was blind to my progress. There were scales on my eyes that i needed help removing. I needed a saviour to bring revelation and healing, if you will. I’m being facetious, but religion put me through a LOT, so have mercy. Heh. My saving grace was finding the right therapist. She taught me things i needed to know, and shone a light on me. Today, i am my own saviour, and I AM my revelation. I’m being reborn. The scales have fallen from my eyes and I SEE.
I see that i have changed – i’ve changed plenty.
And so, a list!
Some are big, some small. Some are silly observances and some saved my dang life.
– I no longer flirt;
– I don’t fawn at people who i know don’t like me, or people who are gruff or rude;
– I’m far less of an approval/acceptance seeker;
– I let other people help me cook;
– I don’t hoard food;
– I don’t binge/purge;
– I’m no longer addicted to pain pills;
– Non-smoker for 20+yrs;
– Maintained a 200+lb weight loss for over 15yrs*;
– Happy apostate;
– I’m decorating my house;
– I can be around children (most of the time);
– I’m no longer physically or verbally abusive;
– I’m not constantly choking back rage;
– I’m happily estranged from my family;
– I’ve let someone in to truly know me;
– I’m creating my OWN style, fashion/makeup/hair wise;
– I haven’t been committed in 10yrs**;
– I stopped driving (i’ll tell that story one day);
– I’m learning to manage my life as a multiple***;
– I have goals and aspirations.
I’ve changed tremendously, and i intend to change even more, where required.
Now for my story.
We have 2 dogs. I have a 10yr old Pomeranian that i’ve had since he was a puppy. He looks fancy, but he likes to be outside and get dirty and go for walks with me. He doesn’t need much attention, and he likes his alone time. He is my fur-person, and will come lie in bed with me, Cristina/Meredith style (Grey’s Anatomy) when i’m low, even though my waterbed is too warm for him. He’s not a lap dog, preferring to sit at my feet when my husband is home, or beside me when he isn’t. He doesn’t mind other people, but he ignores other animals – unless they get in his personal space, at which time he will quickly clue them in that he ain’t havin’ it. He is food-centric, so much so that he nearly died from bloat (a rarity for such a small dog) when he was young. We learned to soften his food because he’d just swallow the kibble whole, and we put a ball in the dish, because he’ll still eat the softened food so fast he chokes on it. Between all the mush he gets on his ruff, and his love of our farm and dusty country roads, he needs to see his groomer OFTEN.
My husband’s dog is his polar opposite. She’s a medium-sized, 7yr old mutt with definite Bully leanings, that he rescued at around 6mos. She’ll take all your attention, all the time if you want to give it, although she’s not needy about it. She loves her kennel, and will go there for comfort, and any time we tell her “kennel,” say, when people come over. We do this because she. loves. everybody. and will jump on you, knock you over, and lick you forever (we let her out when things are calmer). Like my Pom, she loves walks and all the sniffs. While my boy is often too warm, her fur is so sparse you can see her skin markings underneath so we have a coat for her to wear outside from early fall to late spring. Our road and the adjoining canal is a favourite place for dog-walking, and she’s always overjoyed meeting other doggos. When it comes to mealtime, she likes to eat, but other than trying to casually sniff the plate on her Daddy’s tv tray (Dumdeedum, i’m just stretching, and my nose just happens to be 10cm from your food – nothin’ to see here, don’t mind me, tralala…), she’s not a moocher or a garbage-raider. Her favourite things are zooming around the outside of our house at top speed, rolling in scat (especially deer), and rides with Daddy in his work van. For the last, if he opens the door, she will bound into the back seat, and sit and wait patiently until he’s ready to go.
I’m sharing this for one, because i’m a pet person and don’t most of us love to wax poetic on our beloved fur babies? And two, because our dear sweet girl has fallen ill. Over the last 4mos or so, her enthusiastic, ebullient puppy personality has done a complete 180. She began acting like a geriatric dog; she moped about, wanting to spend all day and night in her kennel. She walked like she was in pain, and began refusing food. She didn’t want play with my boy (who actually loves her so much he licks her nose). She didn’t even care for van rides.
We’ve seen the vet half a dozen times, had every test imaginable, and they’ve found nothing. Each time we went she perked up –because of course she LOVES going to vet– /exasperated. They never saw her flat affect as she stopped moping and gladly trotted into the office with them. Meanwhile, she’d deteriorated to the point where she was piddling and drooling, her ears were full of bloody muck, and she was refusing food and water. Finally a vet tech friend of mine suggested Lyme disease. We thought about how many deer we have around here, and her fondness for their droppings. In desperation we went in again, and got the test. Turns out it’s extremely rare where we live, which is why they didn’t suggest it.
We’re waiting for the results. In the meantime, they put her on an aggressive round of antibiotics (she’d been on a mild one for clostridium), and gave her steroids for her rash (she has skin sensitivities like a lot of Pit Bull types).
And then something quite wonderful happened – she began improving. Over the last 4 days or so, she’s been accepting food, drinking well, her ears have cleared up, as has her piddling and drooling. She willingly comes out of her kennel in the morning to go outside with her daddy, and has resumed trotting up to us for scritches and pets.
When we’d take her to the vet, she was so lethargic we had to lift her in, but 2days ago when hubby opened the side door, she jumped in herself. We’ve begun feeding her 2X a day, and when it’s time to eat, she’s right there in the kitchen watching us prepare it. Last night after dins, she was still following us around wherever we went. It took a bit before we realised that she wanted a second helping, which i happily gave her, as she has wasted away these last few months.
I’m so looking forward to taking her for walkies today.
These last few months have been frustrating, scary, and gut-wrenching. She’s too young and lovely for us to lose her yet. We’re not ready. We still don’t know what’s wrong with her, and there still may be sad, awful times coming. The next step is very expensive, and it’s to detect cancer (which doesn’t show up on her screens). We’ve already spent so much money, all the resources we have left would be to keep her as comfortable as possible until the time comes.
There is no money plea coming, and no gofundme or whatever, i would gratefully decline any such offers. We’ll do the best we can for our darling girl, but the thing is, she seems to be improving. I don’t want to hope too hard, because i know how these things can go. If she does fully recover, we may never know what was actually wrong with her, but i’ll take it.
I’ll take it and hug her and pet her and feed her and walk her until she actually gets tired of me.
No real reason for this, except i’m trying to write more, and i was inspired by one of my favourite blog writer’s recent posts. So that’s my storytime, and if you read all this way, thanks!
Have as good a day as you can. I hope things are looking up for you as they are for me.
Sending Out Peace and Love to All,
* I did lose over 300lbs, but regained after bipolar mania, meds, and multiplicity. I have around a third left before i’m back where i was. Yay me!
** I’ve gone for help on my own a couple of times.
*** I have a number of other diagnoses, but DID is primary, in my opinion.
IMAGE: Rebekah Howell
(This is my idea of heaven.)
Lately i’ve been thinking on the reactions to this person that i’m becoming. I’ll tell you flat out and straight up that i’m incredibly self-focused. It’s not that i don’t care about others – i’m chock full of sympathy and fairly bleeding empathy. I believe that turning an intense and unflinching eye inward is how i not only saved my life, but made myself into a decent and functional human. My mother intended for me to be someone quite different than who i am today. To put it mildly, she wanted me as slave labour, as a receptacle for her rage, to worship her as a deity (you think i’m kidding… ) and as an ever-flowing fountain of unconditional love for her and her alone.
The best gift i got from her other than my life, was her early death. It might have been my only chance to escape her conscious and deliberate indoctrination of me. I’m not sure i would have had the insight, the will, or the strength to free myself from her iron grip. When she died, while i was immediately emancipated from serving her, i was still left with a personality and behaviours that had been designed to ally myself with selfish manipulators who mostly took and rarely gave. I was a slave without a master.
My system didn’t just save me from the horrors of my childhood, they kept me from bad relationships, and some potentially awful friendships. I still managed to make best friends with 2 of the kind of people i’ve described above, though. Not deadly like my mother, but toxic AF. They both did me the favour of ending our friendship, which i’m grateful for today. (More commentary on that later.) Some of my more developed and powerful parts would exert their influence in other areas. For instance, i avoided roommate situations, preferring to live alone. I could perform the sex act, although it was mostly other parts in control when it was happening – or i was heavily medicated with alcohol and/or other drugs. What i couldn’t do was commit. I never thought about marriage or children. I became pregnant due to unsafe sex practises, and was engaged for a time because i was asked and i was very religious and thought it was expected. It was my system that made the decisions to keep the baby and ditch the dude (to be clear, he wasn’t the father).
When i accepted that i was bipolar and a multiple (years after these events), my level of function plummeted. I practically abandoned my children and nearly destroyed my marriage (a different, way more suitable dude). On the plus side my crap friends ditched me and i became estranged from what was left of my family. I had no one to pretend for, anymore. All that was left was my husband, my children, and a couple of excellent professional health care providers – one medical, and one therapeutic.
Everything inside me fell apart. Some fully sentient creatures (by the broadest definition), some feelings and memories that had developed their own personalities, and then all the other things that make up a person, like: my good qualities, my flaws, my skills, how i coped (besides being crazy), my hopes for the future (mostly for my loved ones, and for my relationships with them – i never really had much in the way of life goals or aspirations – too busy just surviving, i think).
Everything that made me who i was became detached and scattered about. I’ve spent the last dozen years or so trying to put myself back together. I’ve spent it trying to become the captain of this ship of fools. Learning to read the stars. Making repairs. Trying to fix the goddamned rudder.
I started out with a blueprint, but somewhere along the way i decided it wasn’t mine. I decided on a major overhaul. I decided i would be the architect and i would have precisely the ship i wanted.
I didn’t know enough about myself to know how to rebuild me, let alone how to REMAKE me, but i didn’t do this much work at this much cost for this much time not to have exactly what i want.
I started out with only the vaguest ideas, mostly based on not wanting to be in pain or stuck in chaos or hurting those i loved anymore. But somewhere along the way i discovered that there was more to life than that, and i wanted some of it. I discovered that i was a capable and talented architect. I discovered that i already had almost everything i needed to build the ship of my dreams. I discovered good and hopeful dreams inside me. And i discovered that i knew how to get, or at least could figure out how to get, anything i didn’t already have, in order to be shipshape.
Some of the changes i’ve made have upset those around me, and a lot of those people are now gone. Mostly it was their choice, and it happened before i realised what i was doing or how it was affecting them. And all the leaving hurt. Often, it hurt so much i would fall into a deep depression or act out in some way that caused chaos. But i kept doing the work, the remodeling and the cleaning up after, and now? It still stings a bit occasionally, but less and less all the time. Now i know i have choices, too.
Some of those toxic people have tried to contact me. Sick, passive-aggressive bullshit that’s so obvious to me now. And those parts of me that my mother built so carefully, those parts that think that people who love me abuse me because i’m bad and i deserve it? Those parts that think abuse IS love? I’m gathering them to me and showing them what love really is – by keeping the bad people away. By helping them form alliances and friendships with protectors in my system, including me.
Those sick and dangerous people who wove a false narrative. That told me not to tell the truth. That told me not to be angry or sad. That expected me to act like everything was okay and no one is bad (except me) and no one is hurting and everything is great because Jesus and the Cross. Those people that never, not one of them, not one, single time, said sorry to me for anything they did to me, ever.
My ship is a sailboat: small, sleek, mostly slow and just soaking up the sun, but fast as fuck when she wants to be.
Underneath, my ship is also a submarine, full of sailors who love the life, and we’re slowly building a yacht.
(This is almost more allegory than analogy, because the way they treated me is a moral issue.)
My mother made me a tugboat and she used me constantly, with no decent or regular maintenance. I was already in terrible disrepair when she died, but it didn’t stop the rest of ’em from having me haul their shit around. None of them believed there was an invisible submarine underneath. I’ll bet if they saw me, they’d still see an old tugboat, too.
Well, they won’t get more’n a glimpse, and no Ahoy! cuz i’ll trim the sails and hightail it outta there, lickety split. They can just stay on the shore, danglin’ their feet in putrid water and tellin’ each other how fine the day is.
If these parts don’t seem quite connected, stay tuned. Heh.
I’m not a bitch.
I’m changing though, and that can be hard for people who’ve known you a long time, i think. It can be difficult for my partner, my children, my close friends.
I developed a truckload of traits to survive my childhood and cope with the trauma and dysfunction it’s caused in my life.
Even after it had stopped, my brain and my body kept living as if trauma was still occurring, or was just around the next corner.
I discarded some parts of my personality for the same reason.
I’ve gotten to know my system fairly well, and yes, they’re all me, but some of these quirks and qualities are no longer necessary. Well, not currently required.
I don’t see this as integration.
This is a first class vacation for some stressed little Bits.
This is the Rolex/beach house retirement for some exhausted parental types.
This war is long over, and it’s time to clean the weaponry and put it in its pristine arsenal, where i’m the only person who has access.
No one’s leaving and nothing is being tossed.
I know who i was and i know who i am. Now i’m on to the part where i figure out/decide who i want to be. I’m poring over it all, scrutinising everyone, and we’re building me together, fresh and new, from the toes up.
No one left behind. Everyone has a say. Everyone gets to feel.
And to that end, some things have been happening in my personal life that’ve triggered some voices with some things to say, some feelings and thoughts to express.
I hesitated with this piece. I didn’t sleep well last night due to some in-home upheaval, so when this stuff started pouring out on the page, i pulled back. Body vibrating. Hands shaking. Guts churning.
Do i let anger out? Resentment? Bitterness? Indignation? FURY?
What if i scare someone?
What if i come off as a bitch?
My therapist has spent these last months gently convincing me that these feelings need to be felt if i want to move on to some reward-rich, next level healing.
And why wouldn’t i want that?
My childhood didn’t kill me, and all i did to live with it, handle it, bury it, dig it back up, look at it, hear it, feel it, cope with it, heal it, hasn’t ended me either.
So bring it on. Lay it on me. Let’s do this.
Today i’m not terrified.
Today i’m pissed off. I’ve been scared and felt vulnerable these last few months but made it through with no serious wreckage to clean up around me, and i can handle this anger just as well. I neither need nor want to pull my world down around me. I have no wish to torpedo any relationships – i’ve already eliminated all the toxic ones. I have one seriously problematic relationship right now, one that has perhaps triggered this anger (i’m not sure though, because this emotion was going to come up and require processing, regardless of my interactions with anyone in my current circle), but it isn’t toxic.
I think it’s probably normal AF to have ups and downs with loved ones – to have to work through difficulties and navigate some rough patches.
And while i am experiencing some dissociation, that’s just who i am, and i’m aware of it and i think i’m handling it fairly well. I’m not leaving the face and hiding from the conflict. I’m here, i’m in it, i’m the one feeling it and deciding what to do about what’s happening.
This is an emotional purge – a spring cleaning of some brain-clutter.
I’m fine, and the person i’m in conflict with is safe.
I don’t break people, and i don’t even break stuff anymore.
I was taught to do as i was told and never complain.
I was taught that other people’s feelings were more important than mine.
I was taught that grownups, those having jobs with authority over fellow citizens, and males were my superiors.
I was taught that i was property.
I was taught that i was responsible for the “negative” feelings of others.
I learned that if those to whom i belonged or was beholden were in a good mood i was less likely to experience physical pain.
I learned that if these same people liked me i usually received better treatment overall.
I learned that if i could hide, or at least be quiet and blend in, i could sometimes avoid being targeted for abuse.
I learned that if i “absorbed” those emotions of them with power and authority over me, that the abuse might stop for a time, and i’d occasionally be rewarded.
I learned all these things long before i set foot in a school.
Because school, which should have been a break from the Hell i lived at home, quickly became just another torture chamber.
I had a couple of excellent teachers, and i had a couple of absolute crap ones. Mostly though, they were mediocre and clueless. Maybe some were willfully ignorant, but i’m hesitant to apply the label because my mom could put on a good show when properly motivated. I was bright, i had a sunny disposition and an animated personality. So, even if i was clearly poor and my hygiene needed work and i never achieved the grades every teacher probably knew i was capable of, and my mother was hard to reach and the fattest person anyone had ever seen in real life – that wasn’t necessarily a red flag…
My tone is sarcastic and i’m testy this morning, i admit it. I’ve given a great deal of thought to if and where my teachers bear responsibility for the treatment i endured in school, and i don’t find them culpable. I told my favourite teacher in high school that i was in a bad situation at home, and he acted as if i hadn’t said a word – shocking and revolting a complete abandonment of his fucking mandate sure, but i’d already moved out and was living with friends, so what was there left for him to do? Besides, we functioned in an atmosphere where one of my fellow students favourite teachers gave precedent to the popular kids, and flirted outrageously with all of them that were female. No one seemed to be disturbed by it at all. (He was one of the crappiest teachers i ever had. He thought he was funny and charming, but even in my dissociated state, i found him a repulsive creep.)
I can’t fault them for not protecting me from bullying, either. I tried never to let any student see that they hurt me, so what was there for the teachers to see/hear? I would insult myself first, or laugh along with them, or ignore, or sometimes (i know now) someone else in my system would handle things.
With their big, obnoxious mouth. Heh.
Which only ever caused more bullying, but my life was so filled with stress, i don’t blame anyone who lives here in my brain with me for needing to vent. Those occasional blurts may well have kept me from exploding. Or imploding.
Or whatever – i’m here and i’m alive and i’ll take it, with thanks to my beloved Peanut Gallery. Wah wah wah wah.
At least i never got the shit kicked out of me like i did if i beaked off at home. It was an exceedingly rare occurrence for me to get mouthy with my mother, but it did happen.
Maybe i never pushed any of the bullies too far, or maybe being Amazon-sized was off putting. (Or maybe bullies are actually pathetic cowards. Hm.) I guess i’m saying it’s possible that teachers didn’t see how awfully some of the other kids treated me.
Everything i’d been taught/learned at home worked both for and against me at school.
I managed not to be the most picked on, or least popular kid in my grade (every time but one – and that, thankfully, only lasted half of 1 school year*), but i think i might have had it easier if i’d stood up for myself, even one time.
I didn’t stand up for myself, though. It didn’t occur to me.
In fact, i thought everything those horrid kids said to me was true, and it was appropriate to pick on me, because i was fat, and i was weird, and dirty and poor and whatever other label they ascribed to me.
I’m moving on from the teachers. On to the students. I’ll be brief, but i’m going to be brutal and blunt:
The ones who picked on me were jerks.
I have 1 friend today who confesses he was a bully in school, and he is one of the kindest and best people i know. Due to him and also the kind of human i am, i’m going to say that it’s possible that some of those kids grew up to not be jerks.
But i don’t think it’s likely.
(One of the meanest girls i’ve ever known immediately resorted to calling me names when i stood up to her as a grown woman.)
I hope they did change though, of course, because my heart breaks for the selfish, cruel, and clueless generations they might inflict on other hurting and lonely children. I know how hard it is to survive that, and i know not everyone does.
From school i could move on to shitty former friends and estranged family, but i’m not going to. One, i’ve processed former friendships well and moved on, and two, i don’t discuss family, because that might look like an invitation to them to come back and have an opinion about me and my life.
And they aren’t getting one.
Besides, they weren’t where these parts were focused. I’m listening, but more importantly, i’m feeling these thoughts and these memories. The fear, the hopelessness, and the terrible aloneness and otherness and wrongness that these crappy human beings visited upon me, Monday to Friday, for a solid 10 1/2 motherfucking years.
I’m dealing with a current relationship that reminds me of needing to be liked by a loved one in order to avoid being hurt, and whose treatment of me brings back all that pain from school.
I’m not cool.
I say dumb stuff.
I talk too much.
I’m too big – i take up too much space.
Nothing i do is good enough.
I’m not welcome. GO AWAY
*Fuck that school, fuck those lousy teachers, and above all, fuck those incredibly cruel and arrogant piece-of-shit students that are probably every bit as stupid and petty and shallow as they were when i attended their crappy school in their crappy town.
You’re the most popular kids in a school of less than 300?
Wow. What an accomplishment.
Generations of your family have grown up and raised their families there?
So amaze. You managed to live out status quo.
Very greatness. Such awards.
Thanks for adding to the burdens of an already battered and broken child. I’ll bet your kids would be proud of you. Heck, i’ll bet they’re just like you, you big, important fish in a tiny little pond.
Go you. Cue the marching band.
I have more to say about my current situation, and what i’m learning about myself and who i want to be, and i want to share some super positive and exciting things that are coming about as a result of this absolute shit situation, but that’s enough for today.
The parts inside me that have held these feelings deserve for this piece to stand on its own. Writing it made me angry for them, which helped me be properly angry for myself.
Which helped them tap into their anger – their entirely, wholly justified anger at terrible treatment from terrible people.
I’m going to think about it today, and i’m going to listen to and feel what’s going on inside of my body (below the neck) as a result of thinking about this stuff.
Cleaning out my closets and junk drawers. Bringing all my muppet-monsters out to play.
My toys, my room, my house.
My weekend is here, and i’m going to do my best to rest and enjoy.
Thank you for being here and witnessing my process – you’re helping me create myself and my life.
Love and Peace,
The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.
~Frank Herbert, Dune (St. Augustine of Hippo)
Last year i was cruising along at a higher level of function than ever before. I suppose there were signs of trouble in the summer, but i can’t recall if i caught them.
By late fall i was spiralling. I’d lost some voices that were at least semi-regulars in my brain conversations, and it stirred up my entire system. I had enough sense and experience to return to therapy, to the same therapist who’d helped me save my life, and learn to live with being a multiple.
What she proposed as the next layer of the delicious oniony goodness that is my psyche scared the everloving crap out of me, and by late January i’d lost control of my system.
The inmates, as they say, were running the asylum.
I want to point out here that this loss of control, or rather, the way my treasured Peanut Gallery were acting out, is nothing like it used to be. It used to involve forced psych commitments, the police, detox centres, and long term hospital stays. My husband nearly had a breakdown, one of my sons emancipated himself from me (and rightly so), and i lost every significant friendship that i’d stumbled into over the years.
The much poo-pooed geographical cure worked for me, but just barely. I was a heavily medicated, bipolar multiple freakshow when my husband, in utter desperation, stumbled upon my therapist locally.
She was the first mental health professional who’d been able to overcome my intense resistance to the DID diagnosis. She met me where i lived (even literally, for the first few years), by using no jargon, no hint of spirituality, and neither asking for my history of abuse, nor to talk to anyone else who lived in my brain besides me.
She slowly and gently taught me to listen inwardly and to be aware of and present in, my physical body. Things i could never do before.
Amazing. Fantastic. The heavens opened and choirs of angels sang.
I thanked her and went on my merry way, steadfastly plodding along the road of happy destiny.
I see now that i wasn’t nearly ready for that destination, and that she’d tried to tell me.
Back to present, and i am devolving rapidly. Losing time, stressing loved ones, various levels of intoxicated, and trying to put distance between myself and the world. The world has once again become a scary place that i feel ill-equipped to navigate through. The world hurts and i don’t want to be in it. The problem is, the place i used to hide hurts, too. It hurts more, in fact.
All my life i could hide in my brain and rotate through any number of my Bits N’ Pieces, to escape both fear and pain, with impunity (relatively speaking). But i’ve done too much work, i’ve come too far along the road, and i know too bloody much to be able to give myself over to the numb embrace that is dissociation, for me.
Well, fuck me gloriously.
To understand the endless and inescapable state of being myself and not myself, try saying that sentence with 2 different inflections (consider your surroundings before choosing whether “saying” is literal or figurative):
Well, fuck me gloriously,
Well, fuck me gloriously!
What i mean is, it was both a bad thing and a good thing, and i was both glum and sarcastic, and gleeful and sarcastic. So yeah, always ambivalent.
Unlike prior derailments though, it only took a few months and a 3 week bender, to understand what my therapist was asking me to do. Asking if i knew what she was asking, because to do or not to do is alwaysalwaysalways my choice.
She taught me that and i know it today and she still tells me all the time and it is beyond excellent that she does.
And i want to do it.
I’m detoxed, refocused, calm(ing down, ish), and i’m ready to go.
Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.
~Frank Herbert, Dune (Duke Leto Atreides)
Have yourself the best sort of day you can. Look after yourself. Try to drink, eat, wash, walk, talk, if you can.
I also find breathing beneficial.
I’ll post again soon.