What I Was Pretending Not to Know

I’m trying to write on my other platform, and i can’t. Well i can. I can still write poetry, but prose creeps along like molasses in January. I also have a couple of serious essays i’ve been working on that have ground to a halt.

I don’t have writer’s block. I have lots of ideas and several pieces in various stages of development that i like, i enjoy writing them, and i think (hope) they’ll be good. I’ve popped out some new writing along the lines of humorous commentary, which i’m pleased about. I have a wry sense of humour that i’ve been attempting to find a place for on my other platform, and getting accepted as a writer for a couple of the publications i enjoy has boosted my self-esteem. Which, if you follow my blog, you might realise was needed, or at least desired.

But i’m having trouble writing. Like, slipping into that bashedy-bash-bash flow that feels like free chocolate and new kicks were delivered to my door. Or when it’s so good, i feel like Snow White in the forest with all the forest creatures gathering around… It’s missing. I can sit at the laptop, pull up a piece, read what i’ve written so far, edit a bit and add another paragraph or 2… And i’m done. My brain seizes up. My Bits N’ Pieces infernal racket plays a part in that for sure, but also i just feel stuck, somehow.

Well, after my last time loss, my husband insisted i get back to therapy. He didn’t have to push, though, i wanted to talk to her. I’d cancelled an appointment as i was finished detoxing, and i wasn’t sure why. I hadn’t gotten into too much trouble drink-wise, and i was feeling okay to talk. But i still ducked it.

Being as dissociative as i can be, means knowing something while not knowing it can be on a whole other level. I think we can all ignore the truth that’s in front of us sometimes. I think feigning ignorance is a way to avoid any number of things that we might not want to face. Me, i do that shit like so many other folks, but Dissociative Identity Disorder can make it harder to be aware that i’m doing it because i have deeper and darker places to hide the knowledge. It can be kept from me by other personalities, some of whom have a great deal of power in who i am and how i operate, most of whom are difficult and crafty.

I saw my therapist yesterday. I told her frankly that i’m struggling with suicidality, and i told her my plan. She looked at me for a few seconds -long ones- and asked me a couple of pointed questions:
When is your birthday?
How old are you now?
How did you feel about this spring?


Asking those questions might seem weird. My therapist knows these things, at least approximately. She was asking me to access information that she knew i already had. Things i know that i’m pretending not to.

I was born into servitude. My mother had me to satisfy her own selfish desires. She wanted unconditional love and a vessel into which she could pour all the feelings she didn’t want to house in her own body, like shame, rejection, fear, and especially anger. It didn’t stop there, though. I don’t know how, although i could hazard a guess, but she came across people who wanted what she had — specifically, me. Men who would give her their attention, along with gifts and money. For me.

As open and vulnerable as i’ve been about my childhood trauma, i’m rarely literal in how i refer to specifics, especially the sexual abuse. I prefer to imply, allude to it, and use euphemisms and metaphors. What happened to me was brutal and ugly and horrific. It took years for me to use the words that tell what happened to me in the most simple and succinct language. Words like grooming and indoctrination. Words like trafficking and rape.

I was taught to lie, hide, and deny. I was told i was dreaming, that i had an overactive imagination, that i was a compulsive liar, overly dramatic, and an attention-seeker. I did what i was told, and i believed their lies and internalized their abuse.

Their lies.
Their abuse.

All these years i’ve just been dealing with my mother. I told myself it would be enough, because she was at the root of it all. It was hard to admit my mother was an abuser. It flies in the face of all my programming — all her programming. It was hard to accept my DID diagnosis. Not just because it’s fantastic and controversial. Not only because television and movies portray multiples using harmful and inaccurate tropes.

It’s also because my mother knew i was a multiple, and she knew because the men she trafficked me to, knew.

And now i’m going to write about what i don’t write about: the paedophiles that used my mother to get at me.

Don’t misunderstand me here, please. I’m a skeptic. I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
Some things about my childhood are provable, but some i’ll never know for certain. If it cannot be proven, i put it on a continuum of likelihood. I look for patterns of behaviour. I use what i’ve learned about other victims and their stories, again looking for patterns and probabilities. I try to state regularly the things that i’m not sure of and what i’m only guessing at.

So, consider this fully caveated.

It is my belief, although i do not know (knowledge is a subset of beliefs), that there are very “successful” paedophiles out there. They learn from each other, and yes, i believe there are some that form groups. I’m not talking about some massive worldwide cabal, but it is my personal, lived experience that some hang out together, and even abuse, together. Some paedophiles know about dissociatives like me. They look for qualities that might make a child more susceptible to dissociation, like long-term, preexisting trauma. Children like i was are the paedophile’s unicorn.

I was already shattered when they found me. I was already on the far end of the dissociative spectrum; i had alters. And they knew how to make more. So they did. They made alters in me to hide what was happening. More than that, though, they made them complicit in the abuse. They made parts that would ally themselves with them — my abusers.

I know that this is some whackadoo territory, so let me reiterate: i don’t know this, i only suspect it’s true. I have a therapist who is tops in her field, who confirms my suspicions based on her treatment of others who’ve been through similar extremes. I also have memories that back this up, although i know very well the unreliable nature of such, and the danger of confirmation bias that ever-looms over my interpretations.

So when my therapist asked me those questions, i stopped ignoring what i knew.
I thought i could get away with just dealing with my mother. But i can’t.
I’m going to have to deal with the men, especially the man i called “Daddy” and his best friend. There were other men, and some other women too, and i’ll work through what and whomever else i must.

There’s so much more about how i got to this place and why i believe these things, but i don’t know if, when, or how i’m going to write about them. This is quite enough for now. It’s taken me days to write this much — there is powerful programming coming up against me. I’ll be thinking about it and processing it with my therapist, making sure it’s the right thing for me to do and setting up solid, safe boundaries before i go any further with this part of my story. No matter what i decide, i’ll keep writing about the journey.

I feel like Michael Corleone, fuuuuck.

I hope this greases the wheels a bit and can get me writing more smoothly again.

Y’all hang in there. I’m doing my damnedest.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: K8

Dear Diary: She Fell

To make a small change to Gimli’s heartbreaking words to Eowyn after an Orc riding a Warg bests Aragorn… I was cast off the cliff by my own angry and ugly rider.

I have another place where i write about my marriage, but what i will say here is that i have been very intentionally earning my way out of it for many years. I wanted to make sure i left no stone unturned; one, because i wanted it to work, and two, because i wanted to be certain that if i did leave, i could be confident that i’d done everything possible to make it work.

I was fully confident and prepared to go. I had a place to live and several potential jobs. I was going to hock my jewelry to pay the first month’s rent. I was halfway out the door. And then my husband’s kidney disease turns out to have progressed more quickly than his nephrologist had thought it would, and i… cannot leave.

I didn’t want to leave, so much as i had to. It was time; i had done everything i could do, but one person can’t hold two together. At least i couldn’t, not without it costing more than i was willing to pay any longer. The fear and sadness over leaving had been overcome by my need to feel better — to be relieved of the burdens i’ve carried for too long.

*sigh*

But now he is ill, quite ill in fact, and i can’t, won’t leave. He’s still my best friend and favourite person, and he supported me through the sickest time of my life. I owe him, and i want to pay. So, i have to figure out how to take care of this man and stand by him, all while considering the marriage part of our relationship over.

It was too much at first, and i fell. I thought i’d mostly gotten myself back under control the last time i wrote, but the rider and his beast rode hard and knocked me down again. This time there was madness, and i descended into self-harming behaviours (which i will not discuss). I deactivated social media and turned inward, focusing only on negotiating my way to détente… I’ve lost a significant amount of control over my system and figured it was the best i could hope for.

Last weekend both my husband and son were out working. I have never been afraid to be alone, usually, i welcome it. However, when i’m this unstable it’s cause for concern. I’ve been known to disappear from the house for days.

I was sitting in my usual chair, watching crap on telly that i hoped would distract me from my inner turmoil. It wasn’t working too well. I turned it off and attempted to soothe my system some other way. Reaching out with my thoughts to engage some of them, to offer hope and comfort that things would get better.

And then i heard it and my blood ran cold.
I heard a voice, and it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t inside my head — it came from somewhere outside me. But i was alone in the house. I grabbed weapons and my phone and checked everywhere. There was no one. I slid a little then and receded to the back of my brain as someone else took the face and called my husband. He offered concern and some gentle suggestions as to what it might be. The little Bit that he was talking to wasn’t having it though and quickly got off the phone.

I put the television back on and tried to placate the rush of little ones that were afraid.

And then i heard it again.
This time when i heard it, i recognised it. Or i thought i did. Some weird kind of gut feeling about who it was. He’s been dead so long i couldn’t possibly remember what he sounded like, but i believed it was my uncle.

Now, before i go any further, 2 things:

– I am an atheist, and by that i mean that have not been convinced that any god or gods exist, nor anything considered supernatural or paranormal, e.g. ghosts, reincarnation, angels, psychic abilities, etc.
– I am not schizophrenic. I would have been diagnosed a long time ago. I have various diagnoses and none of them is that one.

I have heard a voice speak to me one other time. I was alone then too, and it came from outside me. I was a new mother, living in my own apartment; just me and my baby. I was changing him on the living room carpet when i heard a voice coming from the kitchen. It told me something that my mother used to do to me when i was a baby. It was disgusting and horrible. It made me run to the bathroom and throw up. It matched a terrible dream i’d had since i was a child, and it was the beginning of me realising that some of my dreams were pointing to actual events.

This wasn’t the same voice, but it was the same type of experience. When he spoke again i wasn’t afraid, just like i wasn’t all those years ago. He told me that everything was going to be okay and he was going to help take care of me. It calmed me, and not just me, the constant yammering in my brain instantly softened and slowed.

I know both voices are mine — even though i heard them in another room. I don’t know how my brain has done it, but i know absolutely that it did, just as i know the people that live in my brain are ALL me. I don’t know why it’s only happened twice, i don’t why these particular times and for these particular reasons, but it doesn’t matter. Both voices helped me in their own way.

From that experience i was able to ask for some things that i need to continue forward in this current iteration of my married relationship with my best friend. He wants very much to convince me that he can give me what i want, and i guess he gets the opportunity because i won’t leave until he is well. We have separate rooms, but we continue on much as we have — there is no rancor.

I haven’t heard my uncle’s voice since that day, and i don’t expect to. I feel like i have a part of my own brain caring for me and watching over me. It makes perfect sense to me that i would make it him, as he was my favourite person in the world until the world took him from me.

I know this is weird shit. I don’t pretend to understand it. What i have learned is that my brain is a fantastical place, and my superpower is imagination. I’ve used it to save my life since i was a baby, and it’s still doing its job. We’ll see where we go from here. I’m hoping for more control and less chaos. Whatever comes, i am never alone, because i make companions. Sometimes it’s a problem, but sometimes, it’s strangely comforting.


I’m hanging in there.
Hope you are, too.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Christof Görs

Accepting the Unacceptable

Upon reflecting over the last week, where i was not at all present, there seems to have been a bit of an uprising. Perhaps i should have seen it coming, but i did not. Maybe i could have, had there not been so bloody much going on leading up to it, but there was, and i could not. This being a grownup and living life on life’s terms can be quite the sticky wicket, eh?

I knew i was struggling, and i knew why. I’d had a couple of blips already where i’d lost the face to various and sundry that dwell here in my brain with me. I am committed to the process of handling my mental disorders and now, my apparent neurodivergence. I was picking myself up, dusting myself off (thankfully, not starting all over again, as Cole’s lyrics go), and getting back to it. I was unprepared for the tidal wave that came rushing in. It washed me up on the shore of my mind, exhausted, barely breathing, with my guts full of seawater. It kept washing me further and further up the beach, away from the salty soup of thoughts and activity that comprises who i am as a person.

My personality, or in my case, personalities, as it were.

I handled an issue in a primary relationship that was a long time coming, and i think that’s what broke me. It left me vulnerable, so much so that there was a rush of alters who came for the face. Some, to help, others to play, a couple hoping to take over. I was bashed about quite violently before being left there, on the edge of the shore.

I haven’t yet found the words to properly describe what it’s like, when i’m fighting for control and losing – when i am at war with my lesser selves who are me but not exactly me. These metaphors and analogies fall short in all (our) my estimations, but it must suffice.

There is wreckage, more than usual. I was interacting with some friends; i don’t know if they knew it wasn’t me, but there is a bit of a mess to clean up there. With one of those there are hurt feelings for which i hope i can make amends. In the other, the interaction put a loved one in some jeopardy. I’m in isolation until we’re sure it’s safe for me to be near him. He knows what comes when one lives with a multiple, and is unfazed. I’m mortified, but not devastated.

I’ve lived with a multiple for my entire life, you see. Heh.

I’m not sorry i held such high hopes that i’d get through this spring without my system’s usual shenanigans. If not for life life-ing me so freaking hard these last few weeks, i believe i could have done it. But life is a bit of a bastard, innit? At least i was able to wrest control back before my family had me committed, which was on the table.

In the past, when i’ve lost total control for similar lengths of time, i’ve been overwhelmed by feelings of shame, guilt, devastation, fury. The lack of control consumed and terrified me. It left me feeling hopeless that my life would ever be any other way. It left me open to further time losses. But slowly, and yes, sometimes it’s so slowly i’m gnashing my teeth and pulling out my hair, my life is changing. And for the better.

This time, i can accept what happened. I can see that this is my lot in life, and that’s not fatalistic. It is, as the current saying goes, what it is. I acknowledge this truth, and in so doing, free up an impressive amount of energy.

To pick myself up, dust myself off…

And get back to it.


Y’all Hang In There, Y’Hear?
~H~

Death in Springtime

This post might be even more important than the last one. I don’t know, actually. I guess the truth is the most important thing, and after that, someone finding something here that they can use to help themselves. I’m speaking hyperbolically because, not only do i tend towards that regularly, i’m sitting in that position quite intensely, at the moment.

I have failed in my attempt to avoid the thing i wished so to avoid. The trap is set every year, and this year i tried so hard to keep my feet clear. Alas! it was not to be. (I’m just being poetic, not fatalistic. Heh.)

The truth is i drowned my sorrows in the bottle for a solid week.
I’d felt stronger than ever, and the best of intentions were tucked carefully in my back pocket. But here’s the truth:

Even though i thought i was telling the truth, both to myself and to this page…
I was not. The bodies were piling up around me, but i am inured to the stench of death.

My trauma is a terrible one. It was the kind of trauma that, once you have seen it, it is tattooed on the inside of your eyelids, forever. Even when i look to the sun, and the sun is so bright i close my eyes. Oh… There it is. It is the filter through which i see all things.

My trauma is always with me. It whispers in my head, it seeps into my heart, and my heart pumps it through my veins. It has been written into my psychic DNA. I can never escape it, i can only learn to live with it, as best i can.

I build upon each little victory. I gain momentum, slowly. Ever-sososo slowly.
Because i fall so often. A little blip here, a slip, a stumble, a tumble down.

I’m not just talking about booze. No, that is the least of it, really. The drinking comes after all the real pitfalls. The trauma, and the vastness of its wreckage always comes first. Liquor does not always follow. In fact, rarely now.
Ah, but the spring is the worst.
The most ripe for such behaviour.
For me, the season’s new life always brings death.

See, i’d been laser-focused on surviving this spring’s onslaught: the amping up of my system, the rising timbre of the voices, the increasing vividness of the memories…
That everything that was going on in the moment, in real time, was able to sneak up on me. It fucking hamstringed me.
My real life was filling up with death and i didn’t smell it coming.
I just tripped over the pile of bodies.

I’ve recently endured the death of a friendship, the death of a friend, and the death of a pet. I’m facing the possibly impending death of a loved one. I’m walking through the valley of the death of a close relationship.
All that while trying to stave off being swallowed by my trauma.

And so, it is okay that i fell. Understandable, even.
Death carries a scythe, and They have hewn me down, as winter wheat.

So, that is my confession.

I’ll try for more tomorrow, maybe, but today i am walking through the valley.
Playing sad songs and writing poetry. As you do.


Y’all Take Care,
~H~

IMAGE: Urip Dunker

Dear Diary: So, It’s That Time Again…

This time of year is always an utter shitshow for me. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, and memories have cast a pall over every birthday of my adult life. These are the worst few weeks of my life, every year. But i feel strong enough, and ready to change that. My present to myself this year will be peace. No more living in old traumas. I lost the face this weekend, and had to rely on others to bring me up to speed. I was lost in suffering that was over decades ago.

Childhood trauma is so bloody powerful. However, i’m relatively functional and productive in society, now. I stand up for myself and go after what i want. I don’t allow fear to keep me from moving forward. I can handle more responsibility. I’m finally, actually growing up.

But these few weeks get me every time. It’s like i’m a leaf in the wind. This is pretty vulnerable stuff, and i hope i haven’t made anyone reading this uncomfortable. I plan to post this on both blog and socmed pages, and i’m writing about how messy i am. How prone to despair and problematic drinking i am when mid-March hits. I have to put it here though, because i feel an accountability to this page that i’m hoping will help me accomplish my goal.

Social media can be such an insidious lie. You only see what anyone wants you to see, and that might be just the good stuff. Based on its cannabalistic (and well-earned) reputation, i don’t blame anyone for how they edit themselves for the internet. Not at all.

But here’s another small way that i can be helpful to others. I have found that the best way to heal from my trauma is to forge through it, to shine a light on every single bit of it. I’m more in control of my system, and i lose less time. I know how to weather both manic and depressive storms. As i dissociate less, i’ve become avoidant of social situations. It seemed counter-intuitive, but life had another interesting surprise for me, which is ASD.

Being around people has become more and more difficult. I lost a dear friend due to my inability to handle certain social situations. I can become completely overwhelmed to the point of panic in mere seconds. What do i do as a human who absolutely loves other humans, but can’t stand to be around them for very long? How do i fulfill my job as a humanist out here in my Little Crooked House?

I can do things like this. Be honest about my situation. Let people know who i really am, warts n’ all. Admit publicly when i’m wrong, take responsibility and offer no excuses. Reach out in empathy, in sympathy, in truth, with a spirit of kindness and generosity.

Vulnerability is my gift to others.

Courage is my gift to myself.

It will take courage to get through these next couple of weeks with a minimum of dissociation. I won’t want to do it sober, at times, but i will. The most intense and vicious abuse would occur in the spring and the fall. This year for my birthday i will stay strong and not permit myself to soak in the blood and tears of the past.

I will always be broken, but i am mending myself with gold.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Dear Diary: Well, Hell…

I couldn’t hold on. Yep, again.

I write about falling often, because it happens that way. I’m not feeling like getting deeply into the specifics this time, which is weird. What i’d like to do is merely document that it happened. I’m not into a forensic analysis on this one. I do, however, feel an obligation to let my readers know. This is my process, these (hopefully) brief lapses of control might always be part of my life. And you know what? I’m not particularly concerned at the moment. It is a part of my life for now, and that’s what’s in front of me to deal with.

As my therapist so helpfully reminded me last week, trauma like mine is not “one and done.”

I’m already dealing with bipolar depression. If i can avoid going deeper, of course i will. Beating myself up for something that happened, that i couldn’t stop (or i bloody would have), is wasted energy. So here i am, picking myself up.

Yes, again.
But also…
Again, YES!
Perspective.

While i heartily and vociferously reject the cult of suffering, i understand there aren’t many over the course of human existence that have avoided it. I find truth and a powerful tool in the idea that a shift in perspective can move me forward. It can help to propel me out of whatever pain and difficulty i’m currently enduring.
And yes, i choose to endure, but also to MOVE, if i can. I will not tolerate suffering or pain any longer than i must.

I know myself well, and i know my limits.
I will push if i can, but if all i’ve got is just enough to hang on, then i will hang the fuck on. Sometimes, torpor provides the opportunity for rejuvenation. I’m immobile, but i’m marshalling my forces. I’m in trench warfare, and it ain’t pretty, but i have always prevailed. I’m a plodder, a babystepper.

Wow, i just motivated my own damn self.
If this helped you in any way, well, even better.
You are enough.
Hang on.
I will, too.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Photo by dominik hofbauer on Unsplash

Blippity-Blobbity-Oops!


Ah, so… I’ve hit my first wee bump with the writing thing. At long last, and apparently surprising to precisely zero people so far (although i’ve only told a handful), i decided to give this writing thing i do a real go. I’ve been at this in one form or another for most of my life, but comparing myself to established writers, both great and small, kept me stuck.

A couple of things needed to happen:

  1. I needed to be functional enough to take on the discipline of a job/career;
  2. I had to believe i have something worthy to offer.

You say, H, of course you have something worthy to offer! Everyone has something worthy to offer! I read your blog and i like it/learn from it/am helped by it!

To which i have invariably responded (in my head, because you haven’t had this conversation with me, but i’ve had it with you many times), Yes, that’s the right thing to say, but is it a true thing?

I got serious about blogging, when i started this on my birthday a number of years ago. I had another blog where i basically disclosed my abuse story to some friends i trusted. As a recently diagnosed multiple (you know it as DID), many of those posts were strange, unsettling, visceral, and i was in and out of hospital while writing them. I was regularly not the one telling the stories, it was other parts of my system. When i’d gained enough control and stumbled across days and days worth of incredibly distressing stories, i was horrified. Mortified. I shut it down and locked it up. I still get a bit hot in the face just thinking about it.

I don’t have many non-internet friends. There are people i’m friendly with, and i refer to them as friend out of courtesy now. It’s a shallow, polite interaction, like discussing the weather (which i’m fine with, to be clear). In actuality, i would say i have 3. Three real life friends. On the internet though, i claim a few dozen. These are people i’ve known for nearly 20yrs now, and they’ve stuck with me through my n00b years, my self-harm, my commitments, my hyperbolic vitriol, and bouts of white-hot rage. The interesting thing is that, an inordinate number of them write. While i only know of one other regular blogger, many are working on a novel, or teaching English, or are successful freelancers, or established writers with proper publishing houses. And they’re good.

Isn’t that interesting?

A few of them have regularly given me a gentle push to write MORE. To write a novel, a story, anything.

Recently, something clicked into place inside me and i said, I’m going to write as if it’s my job.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
I know, based on years of introspection, learning who i am and how my brain works, that there is potential for some problems:

– i’ll want to do it perfectly;
– i’ll try to do too much;
– i’ll compare every aspect of my writing to everyone else’s;
– the transition to a higher pressure medium of writing will be difficult;
– i could hit overwhelm and shut down;
– it could trigger a mania;
– i could get switchy and lose valuable time and momentum;
– i could lose functionality in other areas that i’ve worked hard to achieve.

I started off reading article after story after listicle on how to get published. How to get eyes on my stories, how to get added to the best publications, and OF COURSE! how to make money. Each publication that sounded like it might be a good fit had their own criteria to be added as a writer. Then there’s networking, engaging with your audience, signing up for their newsletters and being asked for support money…

I’ve already been added to a couple of lovely publications and i’ve gotten eyes on my stories. I’ve even entered a couple of pieces in a not-small competition. Oh, and did i mention i am NOT techie, but i have to learn how to use a completely different setup?
Pardon me, but the learning curve was steep as fuck.

I resurrect some social media.
I look into upgrading my phone so it’s easier to take nice pics (i suck at it, like, no really).
I try to beef up my interactions with people who contribute to an overall flavour i’m trying to… What, communicate? Sell?

I’m getting up at odd hours to write because i can’t sleep.
OH! and here’s some other things:

– a relationship exploded;
– my husband needed me to work with him somewhat regularly;
– and Mania comes knocking on my door asking if i want to come out and play.

So… That happened quickly.
At least i’d anticipated it. I talked to my partner and a couple of trusted friends.
And then i was stressed at work and annoyed and i got switchy.
I took a fall. Tripped over a light and a thick cord and went down, hard.
I lost the face, and a few days along with it.
It’s just how it goes, man.

I’m quite aware the tone of this piece is manic. It’s full of dramatic pauses and single lines for added emphasis. This is what i’m like when i’m in a mania. I don’t think i’m going to go any further down that road than where i am right now. I have plenty of tools at my disposal, and i’ll use any and all of them. I have supportive people who know i’m manic and we have open dialogue. They have a ticket to ride, and by that i mean they have permission to check in on me any time they wish. They’re allowed any commentary and no subject is taboo. I can’t know for sure what’s coming, but who does? I need to prepare for tomorrow but be as present and mindful as i can be today. Keep my mind on the business at hand, which isn’t being the poster child for how to be a successful internet writer.

I’m going to write for a few publications, only. I’m going to focus on giving them quality product. I’ll interact with my readers a little, when i can. I’ll do a teeny bit of work on my social media, so i guess that means pithy commentary and shitty pictures.
And, pause for effect…

This place is integral to my continued mental health.
If you got through whatever this is, you’re a rockstar — Thank you!

I feel more grounded just plunking all this out on my keyboard this morning. That’s how it works for me, here. Money would be nice, but it’s not my currency. Heh. I place my value in my own mental health, and in being able to help someone see the possibilities for having more of what they want and less of what they don’t. I won’t tell you how you should go about it, but i will give you an unvarnished look into how i’ve gone about it for me.

Y’all hang in there as best you can.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Sarah Kilian

My Love Affair With Anger


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

The best fighter is never angry.
~ Lao Tzu


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


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


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


**********

I vigorously disagree with these quotes/sentiments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…


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



IMAGE: Julien Pouplard

Bring It!

So, i think shame is my driving emotion, and one of my core issues is rejection.

It isn’t hard to see how the 2 things would be intertwined in anyone’s life – they’re certainly tightly wound together in mine.
Last Friday night they slammed into each other and almost brought the house down. My Little Crooked House, the house of cards i’ve built around me to handle the state of the world at this moment, and perhaps, even my house. My brain is a house where a lot of people live, you see. I’m the landlord, the property manager, and the onsite handyman for all of it. I own a lot of real estate up here. Occasionally, i have found a bit of space that i don’t, but i’m a keen negotiator, and so far all my offers to buy have been accepted. I’m quite the land baron, doncha know. My offers were generous, and the rent, low.

I’m going to talk about sex today. My life as a sexual being was heavily impacted by my upbringing –i mean, duh!– but i don’t write about it specifically. One, it’s deeply personal, not just for me, but for a lot of people. Another reason is that, if i started talking about sex on my blog, it would likely change the tone here and take things in a different direction. That’s something i’m not currently interested in, nor am i properly equipped to deal with its attendant baggage and potential pitfalls. This piece is more about what i learned in a situation that involved sex. A lot of things in this piece might seem double entendre, but unless i make the joke, no innuendo is intended. I’m mostly talking about emotional intimacy, the sexual kind is merely the vehicle driving me to my destination, ya dig?

So don’t worry… Nothing any more TMI than usual.
Heh.

As an adult, i never gave much thought to getting married. I was busy surviving, and also enjoying having a personal space that wasn’t being constantly violated. I liked being on my own, and alone. It relaxed me a little. (As much as i’m ever “relaxed”. It is getting better, though. Work in progress and all that.) When i fell in love for the first time, parts of my personality came into play that lie mostly dormant. By that i mean, i was born to serve the needs of my mother, and i was raised to be a person to be used, worked, consumed.

I’m not well educated. I’m not great at research. And while psychology is a science, it isn’t a hard one. The psychiatrist who treated my bipolar disorder once said that it’s so soft, it’s mushy. This is to preface my thinking on this matter. I don’t know if it’s correct, i’m not at all sure it could stand up to scientific scrutiny or even be tested. I just think it’s a possibility, and it helps me deal with the wreckage that childhood abuse has caused in my life. All of this to say, i think 1 of the positives that came from being a multiple, is that i’m hella good at compartmentalisation. I think it enabled me to take aspects of my personality that i was born with, ones that i couldn’t display, and hide them away in little pockets of my brain. Qualities like confident, bold, brash, assured.

These qualities have popped up a few times over the years. They come out of nowhere and disappear again. When my mother’s relationship with the man i called Daddy ended, she moved away and i was no longer being passed around for a paycheque or as a party favour. My need for my system dropped drastically. Switching almost ceased entirely, although i still slid around on the daily. I remember people approaching me for sex. By that time, memories i had of being raped i thought were dreams, and details were murky. Sometimes i would be approached by local boys who assumed the fat girl would be grateful for their attention and just offer myself up. And sometimes, those who had enjoyed access to my body previously***, would come back for more. I rebuffed them all. It’s my guess that being a multiple enabled me to do that. I couldn’t say No before, but when we moved away, i could, and as soon as i was able to – i did. I stopped having those dreams-that-were-actually-memories for many years. They didn’t return until i was sexually assaulted again. And although i’ve been sexually assaulted a number of times as an adult, unlike when i was a child, i was in the face and fought each of them however i could.*

Wow, it’s like every paragraph is a preface for the next one. Is that how grownups write? Because i’m usually all over the place. You know, like i am right here. Heh.

This brings me back to that part in the beginning where i mentioned falling in love. Prior to him, i’d never been in love. My first relationship i thought i was in love, but once we broke up i quickly realised it was obsession. After her, i only chose partners that i wasn’t deeply attached to. I stumbled across him using a dating service. I’d never met anyone as kind and smart as he was. One day i looked at him and made up my mind i wanted him for good. We’ve been together ever since, coming up on 25yrs. Amd those pocket traits came in handy with all of my relationships, but especially with him.

Once i got him though, it triggered issues that created years of chaos and struggle for both of us. I wasn’t the only one with issues, and i wasn’t the only one who’d survived childhood trauma.

His story is not for me to tell, but i do have his permission to touch on this, and to write briefly that we’ve stumbled and faltered in our efforts to find our way to intimacy with each other, emotionally and otherwise. This last couple of years we’ve both gotten to a place where we wanted to focus more effort on us, as a couple. And as i’ve grown in this last round of therapy, i’ve been better able to share myself and give him more access to me as a friend, a lover, and a partner. So too, as i’m mending my mind/body connection, i’m learning who i am, and have been able to better define what i want and what i like –and here’s the big one– to ask for it.

I learned to be ashamed of my body, and as i moved through what happened to me and my system was fully functional again, i felt shame because who would want to be with crazy, gross me? I’d gained and lost hundreds of pounds, and my body showed it, and i was always going to be a bit of a cuckoobird. I told myself i’d tricked my poor husband into being with me. See there? I felt guilty, and then shame crept in because even though i’d convicted myself of bad actions, i still didn’t want to let him go and still craved deep connection with him.**

He’s had a bit of therapy, and then there’s me… Between us, we’ve been able to get some serious and significant work done, particularly over the last 6mos or so. We’re walking through all of this together, closer than we’ve ever been before, and in love again for the first time in, well, too long. Stupid, beautiful love. So some of those pocket traits aren’t so pockety anymore, and i boldly and somewhat brashly, asked for, ah, some. Nuff said here, right? I believed that asking out loud with my words might address some of the body shame i still carry, and maybe the shame that plagues me over going after him like a steamroller at our beginning.

I didn’t anticipate the anxiety. By afternoon i was tightly wound, and by the time he got home, i was fit to split. He was glad to see me, and was looking forward to later. (Oh god, the teenagers that live in my brain are cringing and eyerolling like mad, heh-heh-heh.) The brain chatter settled somewhat, and we had a nice supper and were watching some telly. And then… nothing. My husband works hard, long hours, and has extra duties as his boss sits in isolation, post-holiday. He sat on the couch and petered out. (Brain snorts ensue!) I, genius that i am, had a couple of cocktails in me to calm my jitters and hopefully shut the Peanut Gallery up. It worked until shame crept in… And then the shit hit the fan.

A shifting in my brain, a click. A spark of rage lit a fire in my belly. I knew i was in trouble but i was already fading, receding into the back side of my brain (M-O-O-N, that spells MOON!) and it was all i could do to get my ass to bed.
I recently retired my tongue as a sword, and so with a brief admonishment to my more laconic and caustic bits to mind their Ps and Qs, i went to sleep. When my husband came to bed, i started switching.

I woke up angry. Went to pee and my husband was sleeping on the couch. Weird, the bedroom door wasn’t locked, which is something my system sometimes does when they get mad at him. Great, is he mad at me, then? I decide to get something to eat and go back to my room and write. When he wakes, he comes in and asks me what’s wrong. I ask him to fill me in on what happened after i went to bed, which is when i learn i was switching. He also informs me that no one would engage him, because they said they weren’t allowed to talk to him. Well, something positive, at least. But i’m still angry, and i know i’m angry because i’m hurt, and i think shame is keeping my mouth closed, but NO! It isn’t! Shame is just an emotion that’s letting me know i’m craving connection with this man. It’s fear keeping my mouth shut. FEAR OF REJECTION.

In words still a bit on the terse side, i relate what caused me to go to bed early. He immediately apologises, and gently reminds me how tired he  is after work, but that his plans hadn’t changed. The brittleness inside me disappears, and i tell him my thoughts turned extreme, i began catastrophising, i could feel anger bubbling up and was becoming dissociated. I tell him i went to bed, rather than angry-walk. He says he understands, and as we stand to leave the bedroom (we have 2 children at home, so we try to keep our relationship stuffs there), he grasps my elbows, smiles (oh his smile makes me melt) at me, and makes sure we’re still on for later.
You betcher sweet bippy, baby.

Today, as i analyse and write about it, i see the rejection at play. In fact, it was the star of the show. Shame shone the light on my need for connection, but it was fear that was informing my actions. I was afraid he didn’t want me. I am afraid i don’t deserve him. I feel tremendous guilt over everything i’ve put him through, and shame points that out, as well. Because i still want him for my own, forspecial. And i don’t just want him to be mine, i want him to want me for his, too. I want these connections with him, and in the light of day, i know he does, because i can see it all over him, every day.

70s pop psychology had this concept someone called, “playing old tapes”, and in this case, i think it fits. Asking for what i wanted didn’t occur to me as a child; i’d have known better than to ask, anyway. Asking the other day triggered old home movies and old sad songs in my brain, of how i was only ever wanted for what i could do, or would allow – no one ever really wanted ME, specifically. The more the tapes played, the more i expected him to reject me. Who could want me? I’m afraid of losing him, even though more and more of me believes he’ll never leave me. I’ve lost so much, so many.

Fear of rejection and fear of loss and afraid to be alone, but afraid to be connected.

Shame tells me i need to connect, fear asks me, But what if he doesn’t want to connect with you? I’m not afraid of fear. I’ve dealt with it in all its forms and at all its intensities, the entirety of my life. I confront my fears, these days. I look it straight in the face and say, Yo! What’s up? I’m here to listen and learn from whatever it shines a light on.
Fear is just a feeling trying to tell me something – just like shame. So as i write this, i’m thinking that fear wasn’t keeping my mouth shut any more than shame was. It’s rejection, period, that kept my mouth closed. Fear was just blowing the whistle on it, which i think a subtle, but important, difference.
Being afraid never killed me, and neither has shame. I see them now as helpers, not harmers.

Bring ’em on, then. Whenever, wherever.
I’m ready.

Steep learning curve right now. Fear is reminding me that historically, i fall into a deep crevasse after that. But i’m already down the rabbit hole… Do i meet the Mad Hatter, or do i go full popsicle? Stop confusing me! Damn metaphors, being all contradictish.

Enjoy your Sunday, if you’re reading the day i post this.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*One of them required me to freeze, but i was fighting for the safety of the other woman in the car with me. It was the best course of action, as she was spared.

**See the previous few posts for what i’ve been learning about shame in my life.

***Added after posting: I didn’t know at the time that these people had raped me in the past. All i knew was they were trying to be sexual with me, and i wasn’t having it. It was only when i dove into an ocean full of crazy that started around 2006, did i realise they’d abused me with impunity in the past. Some of them brushed it off and made light of the interaction. Others were right pissed off and pushed harder and/or came at me over and over again. I don’t know if all of them knew i’m a multiple, but i know some did.

In My Cups

I’ve been avoiding writing about this for years. Over the last year or so though, i’ve mentioned it in a somewhat ancillary fashion. I think i’ve been testing the waters. If i’m going to share how my brain works and how i pursue the life i want, while juggling my particular set of issues, however, i would be remiss if i didn’t address it. It would be a lie by omission, and i do try to avoid those, here on my blog.

My addictive nature, and how that’s manifested in my life in general, and in my journey through mental illness and being neuroatypical particularly.

<insertdeepsighhere>

This will be a rough one for me.
I was raised to keep things hidden.
It was modeled for me that one doesn’t acknowledge one’s flaws, let alone talk about them. If one did, then various religions were the answer.

What i have learned though, is that people know anyway. Despite our best efforts, if we hang around with people for either long enough, or at the right moments – they’ll figure it out. (Not the biggest reason i became a hermit, but not a small one, either.) They may not know exactly what it is, but they’ll smell it on us. Something not quite right. Something’s gone off, and it’s rotting away inside.

For addiction, i have both nature and nurture. My mother ate her way up so high there was no scale at the time to weigh her. We’ve figured out ways in our current society to do so, but we’ve had to, because so many are afflicted with the problem. When my mom was super-morbidly obese, she was the fattest person anyone had ever seen in real life, everywhere we went. She’d always held food over me as a reward, and withheld it from me as punishment, and also due to neglect.

So i learned to comfort myself with food. I used it to numb out pain. It was a drug that filled me with a false and fleeting happiness. After a long and checkered history, i’ve learned enough about myself and nutrition to have found a way to handle my food issues.
Oh, but i have addictive behaviours, plural, and my relationship with food, eating, weight, and body image are well-documented in this blog already.

Food wasn’t the only thing that was used to control me as a child.
When you want her to like you, you start out with ice cream and candy.
When you want her to relax and lie still, you use alcohol and pills.

Abusers used pills, i was on pills to control my epilepsy, and when i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia as an adult, more pills. That was when i began using the non-prescription codeine to help me cope with the constant pain. By the time i was diagnosed bipolar, i was going through a 250 count bottle of the stuff in less than a week. At one point, i was on 6 different medications at the same time to try and regulate me, and oh, did i mention that i’d started drinking?

For years drinking wasn’t a problem. Then i had weight loss surgery, lost over 300lbs, and slammed into my first full blown mania. The weight loss got me lots of sexual attention and a job in the entertainment industry. More social interactions with me as the centre of everything than i’d had to deal with since my school and church years in plays and vocal performances. I was dealing with no impulse control and sexual and social anxiety through the roof. I didn’t want to eat because i was thin and i loved the way people were treating me… I worked mostly in bars, so i drank.

Between booze and the male gaze, my mania became so severe i lost my job. Mania didn’t just amp me up, either. Between it, the weight loss, and problematic drinking, my DID became a cyclone. And then came the years of psych wards, detox facilities, recovery centres, an actual mental hospital, and LOTS of religion.

As i’ve written before, none of it worked. Eventually, as my husband desperately searched for help for me, he found the therapist i’ve been working with ever since. I long ago laid down the pill-popping, but unfortunately, the drinking behaviours remain. Not the partying all the time kind of drinking, which is good. But when i fall down the rabbit hole – i drink. And there are many parts of my system who will naturally gravitate towards alcohol, because it’s familiar. It wasn’t just that it was a part of our regular life.
It’s that it helped, you see.

It’s easier to slide and switch around with alcohol. It greases the wheels, so to speak. And when, in that first real mania, my system decided to properly introduce themselves to me AND return to full duty, so too, did they return to alcohol. I could go without drinking for long periods of time, but then i would switch, and find myself drunk when i was back in the face. Or viciously hungover.

Sometimes in therapy, we touch on something and i know i’m going to drink over it. If i (specifically speaking) didn’t get some, i knew the issue was enough for me to switch, and then they’d just go get it anyway. There were times when someone or something would trigger me HARD, and i knew what was coming. Life would do what life does, and often become too much for me, and i’d fall down the rabbit hole. Crawling out always involves detoxing from a binge. I had to figure out a way to get, and maintain, some kind of control.

My therapist doesn’t really deal with addiction or bipolar stuffs, even. She focuses on my system, and helping me learn how to listen, address my issues, and build the kind of life i want. Problematic use of drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc. is, let’s say rampant, with multiples. She deals with cause, rather than effects. When i first started seeing her, she would come to my house, because i couldn’t leave it. I’d have a mickey of something stuffed beside me on the couch, because i’d have needed a couple of nips to even be able to let her in the door, and i knew that after she left i’d have a couple more.

The more work i’ve done in therapy the better it’s gotten. I even stopped therapy for a few years because i thought i was done. When i found out i wasn’t, old behaviours began kicking in, like, i can’t control the face as well as i was, and this body work makes everyone want a drink.
Everyone.

I knew i had to figure out a new way to handle things during this time. I’m not going back to square 1. I know i won’t either, because my problem solving skills are rather fantastic. One of the first things i did is i stopped hiding the problem. My husband and my kids already knew, so be honest. Why have this undercurrent of tenseness for my boys, where i act like it’s not happening and they act like they don’t know that it is? Why make my husband complicit in the lie? These things aren’t healthy and they erode the trust and poison the relationships that i have with them, that i’ve worked so freaking hard to build.

Removing the hiddenness immediately calmed my impulsivity. My sons both accepted the behaviour and said it was okay. They understood, and both relayed to me that they’ve seen nothing but improvements in the way i’ve lived my life since my brain fell apart.

Hm. Maybe there’s something here for me to learn.

I told my BFF, and since the beginning of our friendship (it’s a couple of years old, now), she’s been nothing but supportive. I’ve never lied to her, and as our friendship’s grown and trust has built, i’ve let her in like i have never, ever let a friend in before. I can call her up and say, “I’m either gonna have a drink or 2, or i’m hittin’ the highway,” and she will come babysit me until my husband gets home.* I don’t bother hiding from her, because i know i don’t need to.

I’m seeing a pattern here…

I’m down the rabbit hole, right now. At first, i got drunk and stayed that way for a few days. The therapy i’m doing, plus this pandemic situation the world is in, summarily tossed me down there by the seat of my pants.
Down you go H, no choice.
But my kids kept loving me and telling me it was okay.
And my husband did things that he knows will maintain my connection to him.

Ah. I know where this is going.

So this time, my Angries didn’t come out and get belligerent. My highly sexualised parts didn’t come forward and demand more and more booze, until i was blacked out and became a parade of damaged Bits N’ Pieces that are very low functioning and can be quite troublesome (to put it mildly). In fact, i was able to slow down and even sober up for my therapy the other day. I’d been fine for a few days.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
~Tao Te Ching

I was ready when i first met my therapist. She taught me a great many things and then i left, thinking i had moved on. It was not so. I simply wasn’t ready for the next lesson. I humbly returned when i realised the truth, and i’ve been learning ever since. These lessons are more painful than the previous ones, and yet, tired as i am, i see myself listening more readily and learning faster. Now it’s more like, When the student is ready, the lesson will come.

Two weeks ago i connected to my therapist in a way i’ve never connected to another human being ever. I shared grief and pain with her, not with words, but with sounds of suffering that i’ve kept buried deep, deep down inside me, at my most broken place. And i let her hold me through it – something i have never allowed before, in the dozen or more years we’ve been working together to help me.

CONNECTION. A mother’s love in her arms around me, in her voice as she soothed me, in her tears as she cried for me.

I strongly suspect that the other day on the phone with her, i learned my most important lesson yet. I told her that shame is my driving emotion. The one that controls me at every step. Every thought, every action is somewhat shame-driven. She responded that shame isn’t bad; shame is just an emotion, a feeling. She said it’s the body’s response to the human need for connection to another human.
I believe i was ready for this lesson.

Yesterday, i was chatting with my husband after supper, and it just came up out of me. I said, “I think shame is the reason i drink – the reason we all drink.** I think what i really want is to be connected to myself, to be alive so that i can truly connect to another person. To you, to our children, to my friends… ”

I was ashamed to want connection, too. The messages that i internalised as a child were that i was filthy and disgusting and not worthy.
But all the work i’ve done has been slowly taking down this deadly razor-wire that my mother and my upbringing built around me.
It’s going to take more work, but i’m going to listen to what shame is trying to tell me, and i’m going to keep disarming the landmines around me. I will be fully alive and interactive with other human beings. I will be living.

As for the booze, i don’t know. It’s just a symptom, as destructive as it can be, and i live with multiplicity, which means i cannot (at least as of yet) always control what i’m going to do. And that’s okay, today. Sometimes i drink to cope. But it’s nothing at all like it was, and i believe with my whole heart, that it’s possible that someday it won’t be a problem at all. Today i’m neither hungover, nor am i drunk. Tomorrow may be something different.

But i’ll handle it.

I have no wise pronouncements to make on addictive behaviours. I have no solutions save the one i’m working out for myself. I won’t be bashing any of the other ways to handle such issues, because i don’t find it helpful or productive. This is me, and my way only. I share for my own continued healing and growth, but also to maybe give others hope that they can find their own way, too.

Just hang on. It’s the place where i started all this, and it’s where i return as often as needed.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*For those who are new to my blog, i run when i’m stressed or triggered. We live on a farm, and i’ll hit the highway and hitchhike into the city, where i am in immediate danger due to switching. I haven’t hitchhiked in a few years now, but i’ll still angry walk for many kilometres, in any weather, and have been in fairly desperate need of rescue a few times, just due to that.

**We means me and all my parts. My system.