Imagination

Writing through the bad.

It struck me as maybe an important and helpful thing i could do.
I think i’m right about that – i think.
I fully intend to get to the other side of this, this current pile of crap i’m slogging around in, but sweet, smilin’ Buddha on a bicycle i didn’t know it was gonna be like this.

I’ve worked so hard to get control of myself  – to harness the power of this brain and channel it for good. My therapist says all multiples have a mutant superpower, and as soon as she said what it was i felt it in my bones.

IMAGINATION.
<insertSpongebobmemehere>

My brain is a place that’s hard to describe, even i don’t quite understand.
Years ago, my therapist asked me if i could make a place for one of my people to live. She prefers to be alone. She loves to read and listen to dark music. She’s obsessed with the supernatural and loves the forest.
I immediately made a cabin in the woods for her, a few miles away from the mansion where everyone else lives.
I do not know how to explain that these places exist inside my head. I can see them right now. Outrageously weird and stupid, right? I know.
My imagination is a mutant superpower.

I can make myself sick.
If i were to tell myself i have a terrible headache, one will manifest in a matter of minutes. And i’m not faking it. I’m feeling the pain in my head. I currently have a headache, heh. It’s a doozy.

I’ve had this thumper for months now.
Ever since i returned to therapy.
My head throbs and my legs itch to walk. To go home. To get away from people.

My head hurts. It’s so full. So many people are talking and i know this is my imagination at work. I know these people that live in my brain aren’t real. I know that my brain did an amazing thing to get me through my childhood. It separated my thoughts, my emotions, and my sensations from each other, so that i could survive what was happening to me. And these disconnected thoughts and experiences floated around in my head for so long they became something almost tangible…

My mutant brain had no trouble ascribing identities to them.
These weird and disembodied, precious Bits N’ Pieces.
I know they aren’t real.
Some of them even know it, too.

But here’s the thing. All i have is my own experience to go by.
I may be a brain in a jar, but i have no evidence of that — what i have is experience, and what i experience is other people living inside my brain. Most of them live in a mansion surrounded by a moat. One lives in a cabin. One stomps around the forest like a sasquatch.

And you’d better believe i have a dragon.
When you’ve got these mutant superpowers, of fucking course you get yourself a dragon.

This is the most exposed and vulnerable i’ve been since i disclosed my story all those years ago. I’m sharing this because, what happened to me as a child made me so dysfunctional that i haven’t been able to accomplish much of anything that looks like success by the world’s current metric. This is all i have to give. I made it through and i’m here and i’m a fairly decent human and i’m learning and growing and getting better every single day.

My head is throbbing and bursting with voices. They leak out my ears and spill down my body like a bloody waterfall. Blood in the water.
I survived what happened to me because i became a multiple.
My head is bleeding thoughts because i’m not supposed to talk about this. I was programmed for secrecy. I love my system, but they’re shouting at me SHUT UP! NO! YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED! PRIVATE!

I’m walking around waiting for the beating because i’m not allowed to tell.
I’m a guitar string stretched too tight. Every muscle in my body is on hyper-alert. There’s a terror inside me that they’re going to take me away from my mom.
She’s been dead for nearly 30yrs.

This is writing through the bad. I’ve just gotta get this shit out; if it stays in my brain it rots, putrifies, poisons me. My brain is too dangerous a neighbourhood to walk through on my own. I am holding your hand, reader, so tight.
So many shadows and wisps and slivers of people inside my brain, yet i’ve always felt so alone.

This is reaching out into the dark for a hand – any hand. Anybody.
I know this will be okay. I know i will be okay. I already survived the worst of it – i can be all naked and weird and vomity. One foot in front of the other. One word and then the next.

Thanks for reading. You have no idea how much it means to me.

Setting the Stage

I don’t quite know how to explain to you how i saved my own life. I know people want a formula, a step-by-step guide, some easily digestible cracker of wisdom that they can swallow and metabolise, an old coin to keep forever in their pocket.
I want to help, i do. Helping is what i want most to do in this world, but i’ve not yet found a way to easily quantify and succinctly communicate what i’ve done and learned.

I don’t think it exists.  I could wax philosophical and go on about balance, but as fascinated as i can be about the nature of our existence, i can only tolerate the study and discussion of the various disciplines for short periods of time. I always wind up getting annoyed with the endless pedantry, in other words, the way they talk makes my brain hurt in short order. I would speak about balance though, because it seems to be the way the world works, or at least they are the patterns that i can most easily recognise. And balance is where i find the most peace and the greatest happiness.
That is not to say an even keel, i’m not looking to be the bead in the centre of the carpenter’s level, rather, i’m looking to place my arms in the right place in order to correct the inevitable wobbles as i walk my own personal tightrope.

If my life were a tapestry, i would want to gaze upon the beauty of it as a whole, and also train my eye upon the intricacies of the weave, but to unravel it would diminish it. Once the threads have been woven together in the same configuration for a time, they will never wind back around each other as tightly and perfectly as they once did. I’m free to examine it as closely as i wish, but i wouldn’t change the tone of the piece by taking it fully apart.
But that’s just me.

When i refer to my life as a piece of art, don’t mistake me for believing in a grand design or designer. I do not. I see no need to bring up my lack of belief in the supernatural for the most part, but here it’s important to me to be clear that i see the fact that i’m still here and doing this well as a fortunate confluence of my personal choices and those of others’, with the inescapability of nature doing as it will.

I MADE THIS.

Growing up in an abusive household, i reacted. I had no choice in my birth, nor in the manner of my upbringing, nevertheless, i had choices and i made them, all along and from the beginning. I was without doubt an innocent victim, and my choices were unconscious ones, yet there were decisions for me to make, and regardless of how or why, they’re foundational to who i am now. Here is another area where i don’t think it would be helpful to delve into that viper-filled pit that is the endless debate on nature vs nurture. I’ll just deal with what was and what is – i can always stick my head up my ass at a later date.

What i’m trying to set the stage to say, is something like this: Through my examination of both how i, and life, seem to work, i may or may not be my own physician/saviour, and if i am, to what extent is unknowable. Now that i have you completely relaxed and settled trustingly in the palm of my hand… Heh.
I’m sharing how my brain works.
I’m sharing how i’ve learned to deal with it.
I believe i am the linchpin and the major reason that i’m still here and the person i am today.

And if you think THIS post was nonsensical, meandering, and otherwise nebulous, wait until the NEXT one. Until then, be well, be happy, be loved. Well, try your best.
It works for me. Mostly.

~H~

Sledgehammer, Part Two


I hit a wall, I thought that I would hurt myself
Oh I was sure, your words would leave me unconscious
And on the floor I’d be lying cold, lifeless
But I hit a wall, I hit ’em all, watch the fall
You’re just another brick and I’m a sledgehammer
You’re just another brick and I’m a sledgehammer
~Rihanna

When my mother died i thought it was the most horrible event of my life. I can remember numbness and shock. I remember 2 of my siblings shuffling around like wide-eyed zombies, and 2 of them giving voice to the pain and loss we were all feeling. Overwhelmingly though, the impression i took away was one of confusion and not a little exasperated and annoyed.

It was a start.

I hadn’t been close to her for the 2yrs or so prior to her death. We’d had a falling out of sorts, over an issue i won’t be discussing here. Suffice to say, she was punishing me by not only cutting off our relationship, but refusing to allow me access to my siblings. I’d been thrown into therapy almost against my will due to some family legal issues, and my mother did not care for the way things were going.
I was talking.
I was telling.
I was not allowed to do that.
It was implicitly known that whatever abuse was done to me had never happened, as soon as it was over. It was never to be discussed, and i know now from my own investigations into my past, that the few times she was confronted it was cleverly denied. (If it was a family friend, the friendship was suddenly over. If it was someone in authority like a teacher or social worker – we’d move.)

I was in a religiously run halfway house for women in crisis. The women there were both young and old, wealthy and poor, different colours and creeds. We were addicts, and we were battered, we were mentally ill, and we were sexually misused and maltreated. We attended classes on everything from addiction and treatment to life skills like how to balance your chequebook and how to get a job. We went to school and we did volunteer work. We exercised regularly and were taken to gyms and swimming pools. Each of us had a worker assigned to us, most of whom lived in-house with us, from whom we received one-on-one counselling.

It started in the classes at Native Alcohol Services. The home where i was did a lot of work with First Nations women, and NAS offered daytime classes and they accepted everyone, even non-aboriginals. I still remember the name of the woman who taught the class. Darlene told us about her life on Rez: the abuse she endured, her descent into addiction, and how she got sober and got educated and became an activist. She was tiny and powerful and i was mesmerised. She handed out worksheets and questionnaires and i filled them all out diligently. I wanted the teacher to like me. I want to impress her, so i work hard and i fill it all out as completely as i can.

I’m 21yrs old and i am realising for perhaps the first time that i was abused growing up.

My mom had so many wonderful qualities. She was warm and funny and highly intelligent. She knew a little bit about everything, was a great conversationalist and could hold her own in many an intellectual discussion. She was an excellent cook, a superlative baker, and had a gift for any craft she put her hand to: sewing, knitting, crocheting, fine needlework. She had perfect penmanship – i’ve never seen more beautiful. Although never more formally educated than her high school diploma, where girls those days could avail themselves of some intensive secretarial training, she initially surrounded herself with intellectuals and various highly educated professionals. She did so by incredible typing skills. Although slow compared to some at 65 words per minute, she almost never made a mistake, and had a gift for deciphering even the most illegible scrawl. She eventually made her way to a local university, where she ended up working for the head of the department. For extra money she would go in to work at night and type up grad students’ theses. She’d bring me with her and i’d wander the halls, never getting into any trouble, but i can tell you i had some adventures. She was well-liked and found herself invited to professors’ homes and student parties alike. I was brought along to these also, where i learned that if i sat very quietly and just listened, no one would notice me and so i wouldn’t be put to bed.

I don’t know exactly who or what got to her, but some of the people she hung out with were into some cutting edge new therapies. Self-exploration and self-discovery. What started with Gestalt therapy, Erhard and EST, took a wrong turn somewhere and she became involved with some bad people and some evil things. I didn’t understand at the time, but i do believe that’s when my mother really died.

I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to sufficiently describe my feelings for her. I loved her certainly, at least when i was a child, but her parenting was, from the very beginning, so selfish and self-focused, that i felt more towards her as one might their god. I was in awe of her. I feared her. Most children want to please their parents i imagine, but it was more than that for me – i sought only to please her. I would search her face for micro expressions, listen intently for tone and inflection, puzzle endlessly over her behaviours… Always, always to gauge how she was feeling, what she wanted, had i done right, had i done wrong.

I think some of her manipulations came naturally. It started as a natural human quality, and was likely skewed by the lack of attention and love in her home life. I can tell you absolutely that all of the therapy, counselling, and encounter sessions she ever participated in never ended up making her a better person – only better at screwing with others to get what she wanted. She was, at the end, an incredibly dangerous person, limited only by her appearance, or those either lucky or savvy enough to pick up on the sickness that was much, much more than skin deep.

Which brings me back to her funeral.
There were over 100 people at her funeral.
There were only a handful of people there who’d known her longer than i had, and no one who’d spent more time with her.
I knew maybe 2 dozen of them.

There was a receiving line afterwards, and all these people filed by that i didn’t know, telling me things that should have been gratifying, but thanks to the education i’d been receiving at the halfway house, they unsettled me instead.

The priest spoke of their meetings together and of her desire to convert and her love of and identification with, the Holy Mother. (Is there an are-you-fucking-serious font?!)

Woman after woman embraced me and told me she was their food sponsor and inspiration. (Um, did you notice she’s over 500lbs?!)
How she’d been through so much and had come so far.
Really? How far is that, because she still has a filthy house, a huge, filthy body, and she’s still beating the shit out her children that have the misfortune of being too young to get the fuck away from her.

Not that they would have, if they’d been able. I mean, i didn’t. I’d leave home and come back, leave and come back again. I had broken away from her because she’d put me out.
Our separation was her idea. Oh, how it must have rankled that the law had taken things out of her hands. The legal system had finally stepped in to do its job and was protecting me from further abuse by prosecuting the abuse that they could.

The loss of control must have driven her crazy. First thing she did was take my siblings away from me. Over the years she’d made the delineation between them and me more and more clear. It was like i was the unwanted, adopted girl, and they were the prodigal son, reincarnated and returned home. Not that being so spared them any abuse; no, their lives were full of pain and neglect. It was more subtle torture for me, a reinforcement of my otherness and aloneness. She kept me separate. Always only hers.

So, when i went to her funeral my sister and my brothers were afraid of me.

And that is the woman that all these strangers were mourning.

Are you beginning to see, reader, why i am so afraid?

My mother taught me hiddenness, she exemplified laziness, and though many believed otherwise, she was diseased and rotten inside.

I often feel as if i’m fighting against what i was intended to be. I’m often afraid that, deep down inside, i’m bad. That maybe i’m tricking everyone just like my mother did. You can say, Oh H, look at how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished…

Yes. Well. Didn’t they say that about her, too?

Yes, in the next thing that you will say you are quite right. I am not beating my children, my house is not filthy and neither am i.

This is why i blog. This is why i share my thoughts with you. Because as i’m typing i think it is the laziness that scares me more than anything.
She did less and less, until finally she couldn’t have saved herself had she wanted to.
She sat there on the couch, massive and naked and stinking, watching television while her children starved and her house fell apart.

I am terrified of that level of laziness. I fear that it’s inside me, and not too hard to reach.
I had so much potential: highly intelligent and gifted in many areas. Successful in most things i tried. Yet here i am, nearly 50 and with only a couple of years of basic, adult functionality under my belt. Could i have been more if i’d only tried harder?

Well that’s an easy question to answer. Brutally – yes. Yes of course. But i didn’t and so i’m not and it is what it is. So then the next question would be whether or not my reasons are valid enough to justify being at this point in my life rather than somewhere much further along in my personal development as a human.

Don’t worry. I’m just sharing with you what life is like as me. This is how my brain works and these are the thoughts that i have that are mine and are not yours because they are mine. Heh.
I know that the answer is that i am not bad, and while i struggle with laziness because it was so perfectly modeled for me growing up, i am not at that level. I am relatively successful, relatively functional, and reasonably good, with intentions, goals, and long term plans that are already in play to be consistently better.

While there will realistically be set backs, and perhaps even glorious failures, i know one thing as certainly as anyone can know anything:

I will never, EVER stop trying.

END, PART TWO

Where Metaphors Collide

Something is happening to me in my life and i’m very afraid to talk about it. I am afraid because it will make it all more real. By sharing it here, with even the couple of readers that i have, i will be giving these new thoughts and feelings fertile soil in which to grow.

I think i’m changing direction. Somewhat subtly, because i’ve been headed in that general direction, but i’m being drawn more strongly towards something. I’ve been heading towards something like a true north, but i seem to be experiencing some declination. Oh, little magnet-me. I’m afraid. I’m afraid because this rubber-meets-the-road thing i’ve been giving so much blog time to, has tricked me. This concept that invited my brain to entertain it.

Hey there H’s Brain, nice to see you and won’t you come on in and have yourself a seat?
Have a hot cuppa and oh, i’ve made us some nice bikkies… I heard you have a weakness for homemade shortbread. I fear they don’t measure up to yours, you have a reputation, but won’t you try them anyway and tell me honestly what you think? We can talk about anything you wish… Dear, you look starved for conversation.

<insertherwarmsmileandwinkhere>

I am desperate for conversation. I’ve wanted for a good jaw for a long time. Miss RMR read me well and set me up perfectly. I talked. And i talked. I talked about what she meant to me, and i yakked about many other things, both various and sundry.
She listened raptly, the atmosphere was so welcoming and it invited me to take a load off. And take one off i did. In fact, i took off many. I pontificated about how glorious it was to be so functional, so present and in charge of not just myself, but my Peanut Gallery. I marveled at how well i was handling it all.
Oh, how i did go on.
Yes, the seas had gotten quite rough, hadn’t they? But i had held the deck with some sturdy legs had i not? Lookit me!
Oh i fairly crowed like the Top Castle himself.

<insertmyresignedsighhere>

Tricky wench.
She reeled me in like a big fat old fish that’s always been able to slip the hook before.
Before now, anyway.
Once i was done, done talking, done exhausting every last word out of my apparently full-to-bursting bag of wind, so through with words coming out of my face i must have resembled a closed bellows, she began to speak.

And now i fear i am caught. Reeled in. Flopping on the deck. Fallen out of the Crow’s Nest. I’m in her web and she is rolling me carefully up in her strong and sticky silk…

Yeah, sorry. I like metaphors. I promise i’m done for now.
I think if i make it poetic it will be easier. Prettier. Less terrifying.
We’ll see, i guess. I’ll let you know.

What i’m trying to say is that this concept i have of the rubber and the road has gotten bigger. I saw it as a representation of all the work i’d done to get myself well – to pull myself out of the swamp of anxiety and pity and despair and mourning and pain and rage that i’d been slogging around in and get on dry land. And further, i saw it as that point when a strong wind hits, threatening to blow me backwards, back into the filthy bog and its ever-present miasma.

(Oops. Metaphor again. Sorry.)

Anyway, i see now it wasn’t just about getting functional. I see now that “getting well” isn’t just about not acting crazy, and it’s not only about being functional. Learning to live a happy and productive life while living with this brain has suddenly become MORE than just those things. The definition has become bigger, and broader, and more detailed, and if you’ll pardon me for just a moment…

Holy motherfuckingfucketyfuck.

I’ve been feeling this way for a while. Feeling like what i’ve accomplished is not enough, or rather, no longer enough. It’s no longer enough that i haven’t been committed in over 2yrs, and it’s no longer sufficient that my house and my body are clean, and it’s not enough that my children forgive me for my past transgressions and neglect and lack of presentness in their lives.
It’s not enough.
Wellness is now requiring MORE. And not just MORE, Wellness has made it clear through her spokesperson, Miss RMR, that if i do not do MORE, i risk losing what i now possess.
(Yeah, metaphor. Sue me. Iamwhatiam. Heh.)

I will spare you more cursing, just consider it implicit.

I am afraid i will fail. Utterly and spectacularly. I am terrified that i won’t be able to produce any greater or more impressive accomplishments than those which i have already achieved.

I am sososo very scared that i will be consumed by fear and laziness.
I am sick at the thought that i am doomed to be my mother’s daughter.

More on this later, but for now, i wish everyone

Love and Peace,
Always,
~H~

The Art of Broken Pieces

“When you write, you should put your skin on the table.”
~Louis-Ferdinand Celine

I’m afraid to write too often or too regularly, because i’m afraid of what might come out. I’ve made a firm commitment though, to share how i deal with how my brain works, and to deny it -even to hedge a little- would lead me to stumble on my path. I’m as committed to stumbling as little as possible, as i am to telling you about it when i do, therefore i must write. As much and as able as i am to do so, i will.

Even if all i end up being is an excellent example of what not to do. Heh.

So yes, i am feeling somewhat fatalistic today. Which is odd and also amusing when one considers that i don’t believe in fate at all. Not a whit. Maybe it’s not so much fate, as it is this feeling that comes over me when i’m at the keyboard – the feeling that i MUST do this. The caged bird singing and all that, how poetic, tralala. I’ve expressed myself artistically in other ways, but i was too dysfunctional to pursue any of the opportunities that came my way as an adult. As a child, my seethingly jealous and envious mother did all my sabotage for me. I don’t know if i’ll ever be any good at writing, but i know i have one thing going for me, and that is that i’ve found my voice. I may never bash out any fiction (the mere thought makes me perspire), but when i write anything about my own thoughts and my personal life, i am exactly me, myself, and i. Which is darkly amusing, because i am many parts making up a whole person.

What do i want to write about today? I guess i want to write about what i’m going through right now, which is pretty much what i always write about. About a month ago, something happened that is the worst thing to happen to me since i’ve gotten my mental health on track. I’ve got one full year of no full blown mania or depression, no police or judge involvement, no voluntary or involuntary hospital admissions, and manageable levels of dissociation. I haven’t had two months of that, let alone thirteen and a half, since i went off the rails in 2006.

So i am deep in the shit. I’m going to do everything in my power to maintain my streak, but the pressure’s high, and i know that i might fail. I know some people bristle at the use of such words, but the word “fail” doesn’t bother me at all. I understand that sometimes it can help to shift someone’s perspective in a positive way to use different words. For instance, instead of the word “fail” i could call it a “stumble” or a “learning opportunity”. If that’s what works for you, then you keep doing it. You’ve got to tailor your plan of personal growth to suit your personality. I find a tremendous amount of freedom in calling a thing what it is and just dealing with it head-on. For some people, calling something they did a failure could be detrimental to their health, and i get it. Try not to hurt yourself anymore than you’ve already been hurt. Because of my upbringing, i loathe euphemisms and pop psychology is tough for me to take. Calling a thing what i think it is, helps me stay real and honestly connected to myself and my surroundings. What i mean to say is, just because it would be a euphemism for me, doesn’t make it one for you. Yours may be more accurately called a “learning opportunity”. Geez, i hope i made some sense, there. Heh.

You call what you call it, and i’ll do the same, and neither one of us is necessarily wrong. Although you might be. (I need a smartass font.)

Another word that i use that can make some people uncomfortable -even my therapist doesn’t care for it- is “broken”. Maybe some day i won’t use that word to describe myself anymore, but i can’t see it happening. I was profoundly abused as a child, and i’m broken in ways that will never be fixed. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life trying to emulate what normal looks like to me, and despite my best efforts, i’ve never quite gotten the hang of it. Once the most important thing became to know myself and be myself, the first thing that was abundantly clear to me is that my childhood broke me, and i will never know what i could have been or done with my life had i not been so broken.

As with most things though, i do find that there is a line to walk with this knowledge. I’ve seen what happens when the freedom that comes from acknowledgment becomes an excuse not to bother trying to fix the things that can be fixed. I have dived deeply into the waters of self-pity and while i believe i needed/deserved to and i’m glad i did, there came a time when i knew it was time to get out, shower, and dry off. I will never be returned to my original state, but i can stitch the wounds and set the bones.

I see myself as a piece of Kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery using lacquer that has been mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. Instead of hiding my cracks, i decorate them with something beautiful and those mended bits become the most precious parts of me. It’s not to say that i take a perverse kind of pleasure in being this broken, it is more that what others might see as useless and throw away, i put back together. And not just in a utilitarian manner – i did so artfully, and now it is even more beautiful and precious than it was in its unbroken form.

Freedom.

I have been broken and i have failed and i am free.

I am currently repairing the chip in my bowl with gold.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
~Leonard Cohen

Love and Peace to All,

~H~
P.S. Did you notice how i started out writing about stumbling and then got on to failure? I didn’t until i was proofreading. Welcome to how my brain works – she is an interesting bit of stuff. Heh.

So, That Happened

The other day everything exploded. Why doesn’t matter. It happens to everyone. A bomb goes off in your life and then you lay there dazed and check if all your parts are still attached. I went immediately into shock . I was numb, but really panicky. I recognised the gravity of what had happened and i knew right away, that THIS MOMENT is where the rubber hits the road. All the work i’ve done in order to beat the odds. To find a way to live with my past and to live with my crazy and be useful and good and happy. These things happen to everyone and one major reason for all this work i’ve done is so that when crisis hits, i handle it without wrecking my world. I made an appointment with my therapist for the next day.

After Tuesday’s dazed, numb, and panicky, was Wednesday’s hurt. It reopened that pit inside me that sucks everything into it. That ache that begins way back in the ether of my emotions that i imagine filling up my insides instead of my guts. Emotional pain always has an affect on Fibromyalgia, and so my flare-up, well, flared up. Anxiety was there too, of course. Sitting on my chest and somehow reaching inside and squeezing everything with frantic fists. It hurt to breathe. I went to a group of online friends that i’ve had for over 10yrs now, to let them know i was going through something awful, and could really use their support in the coming days. They’re perfect for me because, as i discussed in my prior post – i don’t people much anymore, but i still like and need people. They’ve been there for me since it happened, and i return to them daily just to check in emotionally and reaffirm that i’m okay. That part is important for me, of course. I’m not really telling them I’m okay, so much as i’m telling myself. I’m still here, still breathing, and the world is still in one piece.

I had a phone appointment with my therapist, and as soon as i heard her voice i felt more grounded. Her voice reminds me of years of work. Years spent figuring out how to deal with the ugliness and pain in my past, along with all the resultant dysfunction. Learning and practising new ways to think and to cope with thoughts, feelings, people, life. How to stay present at all times, no matter what’s happening around me or to me. It was an opportunity to speak directly to the crisis itself, and i felt heard and acknowledged. I listened to her suggestions and felt calmed. I had some educated and trustworthy perspective outside of my own. We made another appointment and i promised to touch base.

On Thursday i got angry. The first thing i want to say about that is how amazing it is that it took me so long. See, when i used to get hurt, you could count on one of two things happening. One, i shut down and disappear, or the other, I feel angry and i get mad. I go on the offensive. I attack. You hurt me and you’d better run, because i’ll come for you and hurt you. Not physically, but i’ll say things that will deeply wound you. I learned from a very young age how to read people. It was a survival mechanism that carried on past the constant imminent danger of my childhood. I didn’t know i was doing it, let alone that it wasn’t always particularly helpful in my quest for good relationships with other people, but it persisted and it’s only been in the last year that i’ve been making an effort to stop. So before around a year ago, if you hurt me, and i might read your personal mail to you. Strip you naked and make you look like a fool. Say things that might very well haunt you for a long time. Now, i only did that on a rare occasion, i usually just closed myself off from you and that was it. But the closer our relationship was, the larger the latter possibility loomed. Someone very close to me was the one to toss the grenade, and yet i didn’t even see the need to make a choice between get mad or dissociate until Thursday. That’s good.

And even better – i didn’t do either of those things. I did something completely different. Something i’ve been putting into practise for some time now. It’s taken a lot of practise, and will continue to take more. I have the angry conversation without the person being there. It’s a fine balancing act because i can easily dissociate, but if i couple the pretend conversation with grounding techniques (i.e. being present in my body and aware of my surroundings), it can be effective in deescalating any intense feelings.

I have a pretend conversation. Well, it’s one-sided in the literal sense, but mostly in the figurative one as well. I say -sometimes out loud and sometimes just in my head- the things i would say if i could let ‘er fly, so to speak. You see, my brain is never quiet. There are always conversations going on in there. So yes, now you know – i hear voices. (But they’re always mine, and they’re always inside my head, so i don’t hit on the shizophrenia spectrum, just in case you wondered.) My point is that my brain is always busy and always full. When something upsets me, the intensity of the conversations can rise, and even more voices can be added. This can cause what i call a “bursty” feeling, like my mind may explode. I begin to panic, partly because it’s overwhelming and frightening, but in recent years it’s also become because i know it leaves me vulnerable to dissociating, something i try not to do. So, i say all the vicious, hateful things that are inside my head -all the things that i would say if i really wanted to get under someone’s skin- within the bounds of an imaginary conversation, where the other person can’t be harmed. It’s like bleeding a pressure valve, which leaves more room for problem solving and positive thinking.

Which left me free to be sad on Thursday. Which i was. I felt heavy and hopeless and lonely. I felt numb and anxious and hurt. But i took care of myself and i took care of my house – we’re both clean. That is much improved from the last time i was hurt and upset this much. I was able to remember some of the things i’ve put in place and practised to live a better, happier life. I knew i’d feel even worse if i allowed my house to get messy, and didn’t try to cook some kind of meal for my family – even if all i could do was set the table and microwave something in a box. As i got up and began to do these things, only doing them because, while i didn’t expect to feel any better, i sure as hell didn’t want to feel any worse, i discovered i was able to do more than the bare minimum. And that did, in fact, make me feel better. Not just not worse, but actually better.

I kept in touch with my therapist and my online community once a day or so. Even just to say, Everything is awful, but i am alive and have no plans to change that. I was careful to maintain my schedule as much as possible, but i did allow more time in bed. I drank a bit too much, and i ate waaaay too much, but i knew i was doing it, that i was choosing it, that i was coping as well as i could while i processed what had happened and waited for the next appointment with my therapist. I tried to write a few times, but it was a minefield. I’ve banged out a bit here, but my mind fogs over really quickly, either that or i suddenly feel like crying, and i am currently avoiding crying like a junkie avoids their old neighbourhood. It’s a dangerous place to go, because who knows who you’ll meet and it’s hard to say No to some of those people.

***NOTE: This was the week of November 7-11. Although i’ve written something every day since, it’s devolved and not even as intelligible as this – if this is at all. I waited to publish it until i was certain it wasn’t just chock full o’ crazy, but i’m still not sure. In fact, i fear that i may be careening in slow motion towards some kind of head-on collision with something in the road that i can’t yet see… Something my son said to me yesterday encouraged me to post it anyway. I write this blog to try to help someone, to help anyone, to help even just one, by sharing how my brain works and how i try to cope and strive to be a happier and more functional human. I’m currently completely shut off from the rest of the world, and trying to piece together something to post for Monday the 12th of December at the latest. I’ve written a fair bit, but i don’t know what i’m willing to share and what i’m not. What would be helpful to me or you or both of us is hard for me to figure out right now. I’m not fully in control of my thoughts or actions as i’m in a highly dissociative state.

I’m hypervigilant right now. I’m easily hurt, and when i’m not quite myself, i’m liable to hurt back. I can’t do much about it except associate with people as little as possible.

And that’s where we’re at.

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

Do you really want to hurt me,
Do you really want to make me cry
?
~Culture Club

It’s been a year since i quit socialising. Actually, it’s been more like 2, but i’d tried to do a bit here and there in 2015. It was all a disaster, and convinced me that i needed to do something a little more drastic. I haven’t been out to a major gathering since a wedding last Hallowe’en, or had people in my home for a meal in even longer.

I’m not lonely most of the time. I have a teenage kid still living at home, and the other 2 stop by regularly with the families that they’re building. In the last year, that’s been more than good enough. I have some online relationships that have filled any serious need i’ve felt to interact with anyone outside of them.

I’ve never been good at peopling, i guess. It’s not been for lack of trying. I may have put more effort in to having friends than just about anything else. No long term success, though. I’ve had friends off and on throughout my life, some very close and very dear. None of them though, for a long time. The longest friendship i’ve ever been able to maintain was around 15yrs, and no other friendship even comes close to that one, which is, like all the others save one that has been rekindled, either over, or no longer close.

I accept that it’s mostly been my fault. I accept that it’s hard to be my friend, much like i accept that i’m an odd person – not because i know it, but because i’ve been told it’s so, and the opinion seems to be largely borne out. I don’t feel like i’m particularly hard to be friends with, but based on my track record it seems fairly obvious. Heh. I’m not exactly sure what it is that makes me so weird, either. However, based on how hard it is for me to maintain a relationship, or forge new friendships, coupled with how people look at me and treat me… Some people have even told me right to my face, which i actually appreciate. Especially now, with my resolution to stop reading everyone reflexively; blunt people are less stressful.

I had a job from the time i was very young, and the most important part of it was to behave in certain ways around certain people. Different ways around different people. It hasn’t lent itself well to a strong sense of identity. I wasn’t so good at being myself but i was quite good at being who i thought other people expected me to be.

Well, i thought i was good at it.
Now i’m not really sure.

The harder i’ve worked on myself -you know, my brain and my fucked up life- the more i’ve wondered if that was ever really so.
That i was good at it.
You know, peopling.

It also seems to be that, the healthier and more functional i’ve gotten in my brain and my much-less-fucked-up life, the less good i am at peopling. I get nervous, anxious, awkward. Everything feels forced and i know i’m trying too hard. I feel exposed, naked, vulnerable… I’ll smile too wide, laugh too loud, talk too long, drink too fast. Sometimes all at once. Dissociation to some degree is never far behind. I can devolve in 2hrs or less now.

I’m kind of a train wreck.

So i decided over a year ago that it was time to take a break. I desperately needed to get some perspective, and my body needed me to stop punishing it with drugs. My body is healthier and my vision is much clearer. I don’t always like what i see, but at least i’m not crashing into it full speed, wondering What the heck was that, and Is this the collision i won’t walk away from?

Here is my truth: When the people who created me did unspeakable things to me, it broke me on a level that can never be mended. I know that. I don’t know if i can ever trust anyone enough to let them really know me – even what little i know about myself. I know i’m trying my best, and i know i’ll continue to try, but it may be that i’ll never be able to people very well. Some of those friends that i’ve lost along the way have said they couldn’t live with the wall i have around myself. Others have called me closed, unreliable, full of myself, full of shit.

They’re not wrong, although in my own defense, it’s hard to be genuine when you have no clue who you are, and you can’t let down your walls long enough to figure much out.

So i guess what i’m saying is, Fuck them. Kinda. Not really i suppose.
But they hurt me.
People hurt me.
All the time and even when they don’t mean to.
I think just being around people hurts me a lot of times.
I’m sick of people’s shit and i’m tired of trying to figure them out.

I feel safe in my Little Crooked House, and i’ve almost never felt safe in my entire life.
I still get hurt here, but they’re sorry, and they know me. I guess?
I don’t really know right now, but i’m really fucking trying.

Sorry for all the cursing. Dark night of the soul stuff actually makes me less poetic and more profane.
Love and Peace,
~H~