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

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: I Got Nothin’


I don’t know what to write regarding what’s going on in my life.

The depth and breadth of my self-knowledge is not helping. My sharp insights have fucked off somewhere. I’m floating, disconnected from mindfulness, from self-awareness, from the people i share space with. I’m just existing right now, in this fog of sadness.

I’m unable to access my usual level of vocabulary. Words appear to have abandoned me. My ability to communicate about myself is lost, or maybe it left. Packed up and took off because it needed a vacation. I don’t know.
I don’t know.

I’m so dissociated right now i can barely think.

My husband took our dog to the crematory this morning. His eyes were red and full of unshed tears. I’ve only seen him cry once, and he’s only teared up a few times. Watching him be brought so close makes my own grief cut deeper. Her last week and final moments are all i can think about. No attempts at distraction have been successful for very long.

I lost a dear friend a few weeks ago. It went almost the same way. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and all of our interactions. But then our dog got sick and she was my only concern. A terrible distraction. I was by her side, barely sleeping, until we lost her. And then i tried to write.

It felt automatic and robotic. I felt no emotion coming from the words on the screen. I knew there was an emotional log jam, but i didn’t know what to do about it. I kept pushing, rearranging words, sentences, paragraphs. Putting one work-in-progress away and picking up another. Nothing. It all felt empty and meaningless.

I emote. That’s what i do. That’s my voice. A telling of brutal truths in flowery language. I’m a cheerleader in a straitjacket. My words are fire and ice, sunshine and rain.

I haven’t been able to connect.

Two days ago i got some good advice. Stop trying to write for my money-making platform. Stop trying to produce for the publications i write for. Write something that’s only for me. As soon as i took that to my keyboard, i bashed out a piece about my friend who’d died. It flowed straight from my heart and was done in short order.

I went back to my writing feeling like things were flowing better. And they are… But they still kind of aren’t.

I have relationship troubles – more than one. More than 2, in fact.
I’m facing the very real possibility that my entire life is about to step off onto another path. And while i don’t want that, it might be inevitable.
I’m standing up for myself and becoming more of who i really am, and it’s not being met with applause and congratulations, lemme tell ya.
I have a new diagnosis, and although i require further testing before i’m properly convinced, still, it’s thrown me for a loop.
Pandemic.
Money trouble.
Chronic illnesses; mine and others’.
Death.

I’m running on empty. Trying to function under a veil of sadness and a vague sense of panic. I’m having difficulty with this, a simple diary/update post.
I am dissociated and disconnected. Dissatisfied and disheartened.

I’ve had no anchor to keep me in one place. No person to talk me down. No star to direct my way. I decided to take control of one aspect of my life that i can control. I’m not going to name it here, but i needed something to ground me — a simple thing for me to focus and hold on to. If i can get what i’m after in this area, maybe momentum can propel me into and through some of this other crap.

I don’t know. I’m tired, i don’t have any words left.
Time for a nap.
I’ll try writing again after sleep and food.

I might try checking in here every day with random nonsense and stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Maybe it’ll help.

I’m hanging in there though, and i hope you are too.


Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Pexels


Cookies & Puppy Dogs

My life is becoming busy. In the eyes of others, it might appear to be something close to normal. That’s what i’m after. Many of us are returning to routines and activities that had been curtailed or eliminated due to the pandemic. The cause of my jam-packed schedule is different, though. See, to get close to normal, i put myself in a kind of quarantine for nearly a decade. Not much peopling, and a great deal of introspection, therapy, and personal work.

My investment is finally beginning to pay some real dividends. I’m reentering the world with a better attitude and ability to cope. I’m taking on new challenges to determine if i can achieve bigger goals. Who knows, maybe make some dreams come true. It’s going to take hard work and commitment, as most big dreams do. Even 6mos ago, i lacked the brain space and discipline required to climb this particular mountain. I mean, i had some, but not yet enough. I figured i’d just keep truckin’, and at some point it would become clear that it was time.

My tendency is to, somewhat unconsciously, work myself into a corner. When it’s something i want to do/have/be, but i’m procrastinating, or afraid of failing, or overwhelmed by the work load required to accomplish the goal, i trick myself into it, a little. I can use the way my brain works to my advantage. I hide the goal away and my subconscious works behind the scenes, maneuvering me into position.
That’s weird. Let me provide an example:

A while back i knew my husband and i were going out for a dinner date, the first one since our anniversary in the spring of 2020. The pandemic has made my anxiety difficult to manage. I couldn’t quite make myself go to the ER when i broke my finger. I anticipated eating at a restaurant, even on the patio, would be a challenge. I wasn’t keen on doing it, but it felt important, so i was gonna try. I tucked it away in a little hidden pocket of my brain and continued with the business of living.

When my thoughts returned to it, i quickly shoved it back into its pocket. I did start using drive-thrus to buy coffee and snacks. Let me be clear: I don’t drive. I walked up to the window to make my purchases. I guess because of the pandemic, they seemed fine with serving walk-ups. I also ate with people that didn’t live with me. It was outside, but still. I began darting into grocery and drug stores to grab 1 or 2 items.

I didn’t think about the date. I’d allow a quick thought about how much i’ve missed restaurants and wait staff, and not having to clean up after a meal. I did smile when my husband casually mentioned how much he was looking forward to it. But i didn’t dwell. I treated it like i would when i’m triggered to recall an unpleasant memory, by mentally shoving it away from me. I didn’t want to think about it, and so i didn’t… But i sort of did, you know?

Turns out we were the only people eating out on the patio, and i was barely anxious at all. It went well and i’m looking forward to doing it again.

All this to lead up to what i’m doing now that i had to back myself into a corner to do.

I’m writing now as if it’s my job.

I’m not getting paid for it, but maybe someday.
The important thing is, it’s something i’ve wanted to do for decades, but haven’t.

Any number of things has kept me from it, but i’ve cleared out enough clutter that there’s enough room in my life and in my brain, to take it on and see what i can do.

Once i made the decision and started in on the work, my life had to explode a little bit. It seems to be the way of things when i take on some thing new. There’s been a lot going on in our lives, my husband and i. He was laid off and had to find work. We’re having kid issues. I’m having friend issues. Some people i love are in crisis. We have a metric eff tonne of legal matters to settle. And we’ve been trying to work on some relationship stuff that desperately needs our attention. It all just went POP! like a New Year’s confetti favour.

It became too much last week.
The morning started with me laying down a firm boundary with my kid that he didn’t care for, which he expressed vociferously. Fortunately i had a walking date with a friend, so i could leave to calm down. My friend would be gone for a few hours, so she offered her basement as a quiet place i could get some writing done, without interruption.

I was able to get quite a bit accomplished. I went outside to enjoy the sun with my friend, but she was busy getting ready to go out. It wasn’t a good time for the kind of conversation that i wanted to have. Then something triggered me so hard i had to leave. Like, immediately. She was on the phone and i couldn’t even wait to say goodbye. I gathered my things and started walking as quickly as i could.

My husband was supposed to be home early, but he was delayed. New job means don’t turn down any work thrown your way. Can’t stay with friend, can’t go home, hubby isn’t coming any time soon.
And then it aaaall hits me.
I’m new and my life is new. And yes, i worked hard to clean my slate, but now that it’s clean there’s nothing on it – i mean, there’s no ONE on it.
I suddenly felt so alone, and lonely. All my friends are online – i only have a couple of “real life” friends now. They have their own lives and we’re living through a pandemic, to boot.
There are issues in all my relationships that may not be resolvable.

If that isn’t enough, my number one priority is dissociating as little as possible. My system’s mandate is to leave the face to me, to let me be in control. I try to think and feel in real time. I try to be as fully present and in the moment as i can. For someone who has dissociated her way through most of her life, it’s a lot. I’m exhausted. Some days i’m a gnat’s wing away from collapse.
My life has room for more function and accomplishment. I’m attempting to fill it, slowly and carefully, but i still regularly feel like i’m drowning.

That’s how i felt walking away from my friend’s house. By the time i got to a park where i could sit, i was sweaty and out of breath and close to panicking. I knew i needed help, but i had no one, and thinking about that was making it worse. I’m sitting on a park bench with big sunglasses on, hoping no one walks by and sees the tears or my chest heaving with the effort it was taking not to cry audibly.

Which is when i remembered that i do have good friends, online.
So i reached out and asked for help.

They responded immediately. I told them i was struggling and they grounded me, then took my mind off my problems with funny stories. It wasn’t long before i stopped crying and was breathing normally. The park was mostly deserted and no one bothered me. My husband called and said he’d come get me.

I was in the face the whole time. I didn’t slide, i didn’t switch. In fact, i’d say i didn’t dissociate at all.
I heard the voices and i felt the pressure, but i resisted the urge to hide away in my brain and let other parts of me handle things. It wasn’t even difficult. Feeling the way i was feeling was dreadful, literally, but i knew what to do and i did it.

I’m starting to be able to choose not to dissociate.
It might be the biggest accomplishment of my life.
Now, if i can just find where i fit as a writer, life will be cookies and puppy dogs.



Love and Peace to Everyone.
Try to have a good weekend, if you can.
~H~



IMAGE: Tamara Bellis

Where I’m At

There’s a destination a little up the road
From the habitations and the towns we know
A place we saw the lights turn low
The jig-saw jazz and the get-fresh flow
~ Beck, Where It’s A
t


Yesterday my therapist suggested that i write about where i’m at, as she thinks it’s very significant and something i should mark so that i can return to it whenever i want or need to.

I haven’t spoken to anyone but her about it, but i’m much less dissociative than i was. Even 6mos ago i would slide daily, and i struggled not to be at least somewhat dissociated most of the time. I’ve felt different –weird– for some months now, and i think that’s the cause. It’s all so new, so delicate, so deeply personal, that i’m not certain i want to write about it. I trust her though, so i will.

Late last year i decided a couple of people in my life had to change their behaviour towards me, or i would need to take steps to distance myself from them. These are relationships i treasure. I love these people very much, and that won’t change. Their treatment of me had been unacceptable in some ways for a long time, but i had tolerated it due to guilt and shame over being mentally ill. Many of my behaviours were unacceptable too, and i’d put these loved ones through much stress and not a little suffering. So i thought i deserved it. I also thought that it helped balance things out in our relationship, a little.

It doesn’t work that way. That’s sick thinking from a sick brain. Personal flaws and failings don’t negate the need for boundaries and respect in relationships. I live with serious, multiple diagnoses mental illness, and it’s a LOT, and it’s COMPLICATED.
But does that mean i don’t deserve happiness and fulfillment?
Does that mean i am unworthy of respect and care?
I knew the answer was NO for everyone else, but i’ve struggled to believe that for myself.

Every once in a while i’d get backed into a corner and come out (figuratively) swinging.
And sometimes i’d run out of energy and restraint and tear the world down around me because i was hurt.
Mostly though, i kept my head down and my mouth shut. It ate away at these relationships, eroding trust and safety and intimacy, until i found myself not wanting to be around them anymore. These precious loved ones. The desire to get away from them was like acid in my guts.

As i continue my work in therapy, confronting my past and pursuing healing, my thinking has become clearer. I’m learning to listen to my brain and my body and give myself what i need. In providing my own care i’m building trust. My brain and my body (as well as my system) are learning that i am capable of taking care of all of my parts now: mental, emotional, physical. I’m growing up and becoming a competent, dare i say adept, caregiver – of myself.

This competency and its resultant increase in trust has meant less upheaval and tumult in my life. I’m less predictably unpredictable, if you will. That being said, February and March saw the return of some old, unacceptable behaviours. It scared me, and i thought i was backsliding. What if i started switching all the time again? What if i started losing my temper and breaking shit? What if i took off for a few days? And what if my loss of control cost me or my family their physical health?*

It signalled to me that i was freaking out on some level. But why?
After therapy on Wednesday i think i know.

Each step along the path brings me closer to a more functional, more normal way of life and living. I struggle with change, with the unknown, even if it’s good. And once i got away from my mother, and the constant threat she presented, i set things up in ways that seemed safe to me. I avoided the unknown and change as much as possible.

I’ve been highly dissociative for as long as i can remember, and almost certainly before that.
Living a conscious, mindful life is still foreign to me, and most days i’m moving a little closer to embracing it fully (as fully as i can). This is new territory, every day. I’m walking away from what i know, with intent and purpose. Some days feel like every step is a trigger.

It can feel like i’m Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In the first minutes of the film, he’s grabbed the statue as carefully as he can, but the booby-trap is sprung anyway, so he sprints across the stones, dodging poisoned arrows on both sides.
Kinda like that, except it’s my own brain spitting the poisoned arrows at me.

In some ways, i’m working against myself. I have parts of me that are aligned with my abusers, and they are there to absorb abusive behaviour. To tolerate intolerable things. I’m programmed to take other people’s crap, and then blame myself for it. I was made to be a receptacle for other people’s garbage. When i stand up for myself, when i say Stop or No, when i ask for something i feel ashamed to want, it causes those parts of me to come up against me. They try to shut me up and shut me down. Some say things i heard from my mother like, Who do you think you are? and How dare you? And they’re very good at bringing up lots of reasons why i have no right to ask for anything, and why i should consider myself lucky that anyone abides me at all.

They were created in a terrible moment, and that’s where they live and that’s all they know.
What i’m attempting to do now, is convince them to come along with me as i grow up and away from those moments. I’m moving into real time, and i no longer need to relive or otherwise revisit those terrible points of my life. I only look back now to see them (the parts in my system, not my bad memories), to call them to me, to gather them close and hold them for always.

This last year i’ve come to realise just how much of my life i’ve spent in some level of dissociation. It’s been incredibly painful to learn that it’s been the vast majority of my life. I’ve been heartbroken over all that i’ve lost; all that was taken from me. But i was done with crying and ready to move forward. To walk into the unknown and make a life for myself. To allow myself to dream of a future and make plans for it like it was a real possibility. Because it is.

These last few weeks i’ve barely dissociated at all. My brain has been relatively quiet – as close to quiet as it’s ever been. I’m not fighting to maintain control. I’m not at the whim of my Bits N’ Pieces. They aren’t gone, disappeared or “integrated” (whatever that means). I can still feel them, i can still hear them. They’re softer, somehow. They’re not inflicting themselves on me or imposing their will. This is all extremely strange for me.

In the past i haven’t had appropriate responses to things. I over-feel, i barely feel, or i don’t feel at all. I think that’s changing. I’m staying present most of the time, and i’m feeling a lot of emotions in the moment. It’s new, it’s different, it’s weird. It feels like a lot to me, because i’m usually dissociated to some degree. But lately, it’s been barely at all. I’m making the choice to stick around and handle my own business, multiple times a day. It’s taking effort and energy and i’m very tired at the end of the day. But i think it’s a good sort of tired; i don’t feel like a wrung-out dishrag. It feels more like i’ve put in a good day’s work.

I’m recommitting to being mindful and taking care of myself, including my system, every morning now. I touch all my precious little brain-people with my thoughts, and tell them i’m in charge, and i’m going to have the best day i can. I think about a couple of things i’d most like to accomplish, and i give myself a quick mental pep talk:

Life has no intention. Life just lives.
People are going to do what they’re going to do.
The only thing i have any hope of controlling is myself.
It is my mission to be the best human i can be, while living life on life’s terms.

This is a new frontier. I’m exploring, looking for new experiences and seeking knowledge. I intend to traverse it as boldly as i can.


Y’all Hang In There, Y’Hear?
~H~
*I’m referring to the pandemic, here.

IMAGE: Greg Rakozy

The Lovely Little Child On The Road

Then he flew away in flames
Did the False False Fly
From the lovely little child on the road
‘Twas the devil in disguise
Was the False False Fly’
Said the lovely little child on the road
~ Jane Siberry, False False Fly

It’s been suggested on probably dozens of occasions, by dozens of people who care about me, that i cut myself a break – that i’m too hard, too critical, too immovable on the subject of my own culpability. There are areas where they’re wrong, there are places from which those comments come that speak more of their care for me than any truth to what they’re saying, but still… I know that moderation is something that i must always work on, and that it’s in balance i’ve found the most peace and possibility for more and better.

In my therapy session today, Ms T touched on it, as well. She pointed out and reinforced how far i’ve come, how much progress i’ve made. It is a hard thing to hold inside me for any length of time. As i sit in front of this screen and bring these things to mind, i can see it, i know it, i feel it. However, once i step away from the keyboard and back into my world and its day-to-days, it slips from my mind and drips between my fingers. My palms are stained in blood red judgment and my mind is filled with the voices of those that would condemn me – both those i made and those made by others. And i’m haunted by the voices of those long gone; my mother mostly, dead 30yrs now, but also those who are only dead to my life: siblings, stepfamily, peers, church associates… All those save her have faded until i can barely hear them any more, and even then only occasionally. Her voice can still do battle with some of my most potent parts, or join with others that she and her gang of super-bastards created in me. Ms T thinks it’s the last gasp of the invaders, and my own creations are stepping forward in confidence and safety – or at least making a solid, though tentative attempt.

This process has caused some parts of me to revolt a bit, sliding back into old behaviours as i sit with the terror they imbue. I’m as patient as i can be with these parts/children of mine that live in my brain and clutter it up with their own personalities and accompanying issues. Today i think it’s a good thing i split myself up into more manageable pieces, because i have a barge load of issues. My mother threw me into a roiling, angry ocean with no life preserver. If i’d not been able to parse it out, i’d have sunk like a stone. I’d have either died literally, or the part of me that remembers who i am and carries the blueprint for putting me back together would have been forever lost.

I survived, but more than that, while i might struggle with what most find to be a less-than-average level of function (myself included), i am sort of incredible in very recognisable ways.
I’m not a super-bastard, like my mother and her cronies intended.
I’m not even a shitty person. Sure, i can, have, and will do shitty things sometimes, but i’m a good, decent, kind person. I still love humanity, too. They couldn’t take any of that from me. My nurture, particularly for the first 8yrs of my life, was diametrically opposed to my nature. I won’t speak to the scientific debate of such, one, because i’m not sufficiently educated, and 2, because this blog isn’t for that. While i work every day at being a critical thinker, being a multiple lands me in some contentious psychological territory. The way my brain works is strange and not yet well mapped out. So i’ve made a conscious and willful decision to lay those concerns down and just work with what i’ve got. All i know is what my brain does and how life looks for me; how i handle life and process it all.

**********

Some time ago, i posted a piece called I Am Amazing, which i’d completely forgotten until i started trying to write this. So… I’ve already done the work. I know the truth of it – i’m just not connected to it.
Yet.

This is life as me and this is why i blog.
I’m at least average intelligence. Ah, i think so, anyway (the older i get and the more i learn, the less i’m sure of that, though). I’ve been working on the problem of my fuckedupness for my entire adult life, and over the years i’ve accumulated a not-insignificant quantity of information in the field of psychology and mental illness. It’s very lay person in nature, lacking in history and the hard science bits to be sure, but i have a fairly good grasp of the soft science of it – at least until you enter the field of neuroscience (which is fascinating, and i have learned some from Ms T). But despite everything i know about myself, how i work, and how to figure out and deal with my shit – i can and do still get it twisted.

The best solution i’ve found is getting it all out, either talking, blogging, or often, both. I just reread that piece (I Am Amazing) and it’s exactly what i’ve been trying to do for the last few days. I’d sit down at the keyboard, bash away a bit, backspace it all, curse like a sailor, slap the Notebook closed, and go do something else. But the words were already there, and posted. I can see how far i’ve come when i give it a writer’s distance. In other words, i’m dissociated from it – i lack connection to the information. I can think it, but i don’t feel it. I am only now, in my 50s and after a dozen years of (excellent) therapy, moving away from my overriding belief about myself: If anyone knew the real me, they’d see how terrible i am, and leave me, angry and disgusted with what they saw.

I’ve wanted to believe that’s not true for many years now. I’ve leaned hard on the opinions of those i trust so i don’t break under the weight and pressure of looking at my past and my inner workings. Over the last year or so i’ve actually come to believe that it’s possible that i’m not awful, that i might be decent, kind – even lovable and perhaps worthwhile (there is a soupçon of sarcasm in that, but not nearly enough). But still i am lacking connection. There’s a space between what my mind can perceive and what i can tolerate feeling inside my body:
– acceptance and approval from others;
– acceptance and approval from myself;
– belief that i am enough;
– belief that i am worthy of the good in life;
– love from others;
– love of myself.

I was treated like a thing, like property growing up, yet even though i got away, i’ve continued to live my life like i’m spoilt. Forever ruined. Full of poison; ugly and rotten inside. I’ve never gotten away from it.
I think all this work is getting me to this crux. Do i let myself free fall into this? Do i trust that my parachute is functional and will bear me down to solid ground, where i’ll walk away and live as a new being in a new land? Because man, lemme tell you, i will be different and the world will be different, too. To live my life free of these toxic beliefs about myself would change no less than everything.

I have to talk about this, not just write. This is the thing, the problem, the monkey on my back, the cross i bear. Can i mend this broken connection, can i live out what i’m learning, can i feel what i feel while knowing what i know? Can i feel all the pain and betrayal and isolation of the past while knowing it wasn’t my fault and i’m still a good/nice/decent/kind person, that i’m not bad/gross/foul/despoiled? Can i believe that it broke me but didn’t destroy me? Do i have the inner and outer supports in place that i might risk that step out of the airplane?

Fuck if i know.
I’m pretty sure i’m gonna go for it. Soon. There is only so much babystepping i can do before i’m at the edge and it all comes down to a moment. I’ve been a doomsday prepper for my own life. Time for trust. Me, my partner, my therapist, my friends. Time to test the hypothesis. Am i going to live out I Am Amazing? Can i? Am i? There is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that these good things are true and these bad things are not. If i’m to be the critical thinker i’m striving so hard to be, mustn’t i now let go of old superstitions that were brainwashed and beaten into me, and wrong, harmful concepts that i embraced in order to survive my abusers? I already know intellectually that the abuse is over and i’m safe, and everything i’ve learned since i got away from them has taught me that they were liars, users, perverted opportunists, who took my need for love and care, and forged it into a weapon to use against me. The thing of it is that, even once i was free of them, the weapon passed to my hand and i continued the woundings, bloodletting because that’s what i was taught. No one’s asking or expecting me to martyr myself anymore. Those who would are either dead or out of my life. There is no cause, no god to die for. It’s well past time to lay the weapon down.

Well, this went in a direction i wasn’t expecting. Just life as a highly dissociative human seeking homeostasis and happiness, yee haw.
Stay tuned. I’m never boring – so i’ve got that going for me.*

I’ve struggled harder than usual with this post. Discovering i’d done the work a while back was a shock. You’d think i’d be used to losing time, and of course i am, but it’s still a psychic slap in the face. Fading, sliding, and switching is not fun. It’s not cool. It’s not like the tropes you see in tv and movies (don’t even get me started… that’s a post full of hurt and rage, and i’m not about that right now). It’s jarring and frightening and disrupting. It steals memories from me and puts distance between me and those i love. It saved my life a long time ago, but now it is a roadblock to me having the life i want.
I already did the work and i didn’t remember.

**********

I slept on this before deciding whether or not to post it. Much of what i write, especially lately, doesn’t make the cut. I’ve been trying to write when i’m in a dissociative state, to maybe get a better handle on things. Understand more. Gain more control. But it’s not fit to read. It doesn’t add to what this blog is, basically because it’s meandering, rambley, often ranty, and occasionally unsettling. I’ve been bashing away at this post for an entire week, which is unlike me. Once i know what i’m writing about, things generally flow. When i struggle this hard, i’ve taken it as a sign that i’m not ready for the subject matter, or i’m off base with the whole concept. I leave them in my drafts for a while, for consideration, but i’ve always ended up trashing them.

I’m not sure if this post will make any sense to anyone but me. I can see that i’m trying to connect with myself. I’m reaching out for my own hand, searching inside myself for pathways home. In a way, i dispersed myself inside my own brain, where i dwelt in foreign lands until i could return safely. This work is to gather all my bits together and be more cohesive, more functional, more useful, more involved with the world and engaged with its other inhabitants. I don’t think it will ever be what some professionals call “integration,” but i hope to emerge from the fog that i’ve been in my entire life. I hope to embrace the things that i wrote in I Am Amazing; to bring it home to live with me like my system and my physical body.

I’ll close with a quote from the inimitable Bukowski:

Poetry says too much in too short a time; prose says too little and takes too long.

If you made it this far, thank you.
If you got anything out of it, all the better.

Try to be as good as you can to yourself this week, and i will do the same.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*My hubs and kid might disagree. Heh.

IMAGE: Timothy Eberly



The Drop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday,
~H~

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.

Anger Is A Mythical Beast

It can be tough for me to figure out what’s going on, but it’s important that i do. If i feel a bit off, i make it a priority, because things can go for shit before i know it. As a multiple, i think it’s at least partly due to my propensity for compartmentalisation and dissociation. Being able to do those things can be helpful – in the right situation and to the proper degree, but first i want to become aware of when i’m doing it (or wanting to do it) and why. If left unchecked, it can and has wreaked havoc in my life.

These last months have been filled with this work. I’m doing my best to stay present in my body and be in control of the face.*

As i’ve said before (and will say again because it’s the biggest thing in my life right now), it is hard, exhausting work. I’m tired and on edge all the time. It’s draining every reserve, and i mete out my daily allotment of spoons with consideration and care.

I’m angry. Like, every shade of anger on the spectrum is lit up and vibrating inside me. I’m everything from mildly ticked, to mad as a wet hen, to fuck-it-i’m-nuking-the-world. It’s been swimming around for some time, occasionally breaking the surface for air like some emotional Ogopogo. I’ve been catching brief glimpses in my psychic peripherals, and the other day something happened where i caught a clear view of it in action.

I had an encounter with someone from my past who wasn’t kind to me, and i found myself glad they weren’t doing well. Gleeful, even.
I made a joke about it with a friend, but my guts were already churning.

**********

So, i’m sitting here in my husband’s van, waiting for my therapy appointment. My regular ride fell through, and i advertised on social media for some help but none came. Then hubby says, You’re not doing well, i have a slow day at work tomorrow, so come in with me and we’ll see what we can make happen.

It’s probably for the best. I have a hair trigger ATM. Everyone is annoying. I feel people like an intrusion. My longtime online buddies are an exception, but only barely. Everyone else, including the very dear man i married, are varying levels of irritating. I feel attacked, but no one’s attacking me.

After my episode of Schadenfreude, i was at a friend’s house. The experience was simmering inside me, and i was feeling worse and worse about it.
That’s not me, that’s not who i am.
That was so mean, and ugly, too.
I feel mean and ugly.
Am i mean and ugly?

The answer is easily No. It’s a normal human reaction i think, to be momentarily glad that someone who hurt you is having a bad time. And i was immediately offput by my own reaction. I processed it and was thinking i could let it go and move on, when a knock brought my friend some visitors. I opened the door for them and BAM!
I was in trouble.

I could see them, but from an unrealistic distance. I was sliding away, and whoever was in the face was staring at them with hot, marble eyes. I resented them immediately. I didn’t want them there. Why? They’ve done nothing to me. One of them was an innocent child. Fortunately, i still had enough presence of mind to wrest control away from the protector who was in the face, and mellow my voice and countenance. But i could feel myself slipping, and knew i had to get away.
I quickly grabbed all my shit and got out of there. I knew i was acting strangely, so i was out the door in seconds, with only the most perfunctory of goodbyes. It was the best i could do; i could feel the rage coming up. The kind of destructive anger that unleashes my tongue to flay everyone around me to ribbons.
My mother had an acid tongue and i learned well.
I can destroy with a look, and my words have wrought untold damage over the course of my life. I’ve cut down swathes of people and relationships over the years.
It was a petty, shallow sort of anger i was feeling inside, like a tantrum.
I got TF out before i could do any harm.

Since then i’ve kept mostly away from people. I need to process this with my therapist.
Why am i so freaking choked?!

**********

Hubby came back to the van for a quick snack, and we discussed getting me to my appointment. I was able to process a bit with him while he munched away on cheese strings and meat sticks
Am i angry because it’s better then being sad?
Maybe it’s because i’m afraid of the pain that yet lies before me.
It’s a vast, roiling sea. I may drown in it.
No, really. That is a possibility.
I’m fairly sure i’ll make it through, but i’ll likely go under a couple of times.

Maybe it’s preferable to just stand on the beach and shake my fists at the water.

I was sitting here, waiting for more words to type, thinking about what’s ahead of me. I was thinking of the pain, but then it occurred to me that i’m already moving through the pain. My body is manifesting the physical sensations of my childhood. The ones i blocked and otherwise dissociated from: countless rapes and endless beatings.
So that’s not it.

Now i think i have it – or a bit of it anyway.
It’s not the physical pain i’m terrified of. Like my therapist said, she could slap me across the face and i’d be able to handle it better than a hug.
No, it’s not that. It’s hard and it’s awful, but pain is the bully i’ve lived with my whole life – this process has just taken me deeper.

What about what comes after?
What’s underneath my ripped girl parts and swollen throat?
I know.
A different kind of pain.
Unmet needs.
Betrayal.

I’m going to feel the rejection and aloneness of my childhood. It was a bleak and terrible landscape where the sun cast no warmth and daytime was a lie.
I’m going to grieve, to mourn.

Gah, i don’t know what to do with this information. I’ve done so much work on myself that i’m getting to know who i genuinely am underneath all the coping mechanisms and fear. I’ve seen other people compartmentalise and put away potentially disabling life events and go on to live a relatively happy and successful life. I think that’s a viable way to handle things, and i know i could do it.
But that’s not who i am as a person. I want something else –not better than the one who locks it away forever– just different. More in alignment with my personality.
Me, i’m a person who’s gotta look at it. I want to know, and as much as i or anyone is able, to understand.

I was blocked from knowing by my upbringing. All i knew was what my abusers told me. It was all i believed. My obedience was so ingrained and unconscious that my intelligence may well have atrophied – my intellect very nearly starved to death. Once i began to wriggle free, there was no going back for me. Even a small taste of freedom whet my appetite for more. My mother’s bloody fingerprints are all over me, inside and out, shallow and deep. It’s not the way for everyone who survives trauma, but a thorough and intense forensic examination is my way.
Yes, i’m self-focused. Willfully so.
I submit that it has, and will continue to make me a better and more useful person.
No longer used, but useful. A human who contributes to the betterment of humankind, and the earth we inhabit.

**********

I’ve left my husband and walked to my appointment. He’ll be by to pick me up later. It was a lovely walk through a part of the city that’s interesting and pretty and well-known to me. It’s also wonderfully trigger-free. I’ve got my footing, a little. It helps. I can already feel my gaze softening and my body unclenching. I see better where i am and where i’m headed.
I’m going to check in with my pocket people, and devour a few more chapters of my current book.

Processing…

**********

Oh shit. Today was not what i expected. I have some plans for the weekend (i people sometimes now – on purpose!), but i’ll try to fit some writing in.
I wanna get it while it’s fresh.

Have as good a weekend as you can. If it’s crap or otherwise out of your control, hang in there.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*”In the face” and variations thereof, is the phrase i use to describe who is currently controlling me and my system.

1 Day in the Life of a Crazy Woman

Where i buy a turkey sandwich, but don’t eat it.

Last week i went to see my plastic surgeon. When you lose over 300lbs, you generally need some work done, and i did. I’ve had double brachioplasty, abdominoplasty, double mastopexy and breast implants. I began having tearing pain in 1 breast, and the beginnings of the same pain in the other. As my surgery was 15yrs ago, i went to see if the implants were the problem.
It was a dicey situation for me to walk into, loaded with potential triggers. I thought hard about it and tried my best to prepare. Being topless in front of someone who isn’t my husband, who’s looking at me critically and touching me… I knew it would be difficult, and i’d be dealing with a strong desire to dissociate.

It was hard, and then some. What i didn’t anticipate was that there was nothing wrong with my implants, which left waiting for a mammogram. Great. So something could be wrong with my boobs, like, my real boobs? Fantastic.
There was no way for me to not be alone after the appointment, so i’d invited myself over to my son’s house to visit my DIL and my grandchildren. I figured the bus might be another hurdle still, but doable. I got to their neighbourhood without a single hitch, and then shit happened, as shit do.

I’m on the bus, heading up the hill, and i start feeling nauseated. I know this part of the city well, and i realise i’ve failed to anticipate the real trouble. I’ve spent countless hours in this area’s local park. Waiting for abusers to pick me up and abuse me.
The dissociation happens as soon as the realisation hits, and i can’t stop it.

My body wants to run back down the hill. Get away, go downtown. The library is a haven, and i wonder when it closes. Evening comes early on my side of the equator, so dusk has fallen, and is rapidly becoming nighttime. The air is thick with moisture, and the streetlights illuminate the fog, creating little clouds every 30m or so. I’m wearing knee-high suede boots, because they’re fashionable, and because i’ve only just lost enough weight that my calves can fit any. Yes, i wear them every chance i get, and no, they don’t keep my feet warm at all.

I know the house is only a couple of blocks away, so i should be able to find it. I head up another hill, off the main road, and into the maze of suburbia. In less than 2 blocks i’m scattered, anxiety has started squeezing my heart in its icy hand, and the fog surrounding me seeps into my brain. I find a map on my phone, but it’s too late. I look at it without understanding. I try to zero in on the street names, but i can’t focus. The names bounce around in my head, echoing off bone, passing through each other like string theory. I’m in a cold, foamy sea of yellow roads and names that start with “C”. I’m treading water but i can’t feel my feet and my legs are fast becoming numb…

I startle and quickly look up and around me.
I don’t know where i am.
My feet are blocks of ice and i have snotsicles.
I’ve lost time and wandered.

I call my daughter-in-law for directions, thinking her voice might ground me a bit, or at least force me into a more conscious state. I forget that she doesn’t drive either, and between the 2 of us, we’re not getting me there.
I’m fading in and out. I hear her voice in my ear and then it moves away from me.
My guts churn and my head feels floaty; it starts pounding mercilessly. It feels like my brain is swelling, filling the space like a balloon ready to burst. It presses down into my throat, pulsing, throbbing. My neck and the base of my skull feel like broken glass.

By the time she suggests my son come out to find me, hope is lost. I’ve taken that stumbling hitch-step from Anxiety Hill into Panicland. I feel an icy-hot rush flood my skin at the suggestion of seeing my son. I can’t allow him to see me like this.
I cannot allow my dear daughter or precious granddaughters to see me this way.

Trying to sound calm and blasé, knowing that i’m failing, i tell her i’m going to make my way to the strip mall on the main road. I can hear my scared Little voice quietly harmonising with my desperately false one, but i’m helpless to temper it. All i know is that i must get away from them. She and my son have seen far too much of my calamity as it is, and i committed myself long ago to testing their acceptance and forgiveness of me as little as possible.
I get off the phone and make my way to the string of shops below.

I know i’m close to mild frostbite, but i wander back and forth in front of the various businesses, unable to decide which one i should risk entering. I see a gas station, and think i could buy some gum and use the restroom to gather myself, but as i draw nearer i see it’s a kiosk. Damn.
I see a burger place decorated like a diner set back behind it, but as i walk towards it i see it’s take-away only. Blargh.
Heading back the way i came i see a Korean restaurant, which is a favourite cuisine, but there is 1 person sitting at a table, and that’s not enough to hide, so ixnay on the Ulgogi-bay.
The coffee shop i’d first come across has closed during my indecision. Fucksticks.
Subway sandwiches is open, and while it is cramped AF so not ideal, there are a handful of patrons inside, which might afford me some anonymity.

As i open the door to the restaurant, i close the door on myself.

I look up at blurred images of melting yellows and blacks. My feet are being jabbed with long needles, but instead of delivering anaesthetic it hits me like amyl nitrate – popping me into consciousness with a gasp of pain, immediately followed by panic.
I feel small and naked and my breath is getting away. There’s food and drink in front of me, and my phone is in my hand. Only a couple of my Bits N’ Pieces can use a cell phone, and they’re strictly helping parts, so when i check i see i’ve contacted Kurt.
That should help, but it doesn’t.
I’m too far along and it has me. Full anxiety attack. My chest feels expanded and tight, metallic. My heart is a bomb inside, and it’s going to blow. I need to manage this, but i can’t. I need help, but i can’t think.
I’m scurrying around inside my brain, bumping into thoughts and parts. My emotions jangling, like cymbals crashing, filling my ears, my eyes too wide, one set of fingernails biting into my palm, the other white-knuckling my phone.
My phone.
MY PHONE.

I have a group of friends that i met nearly 20yrs ago on a fansite/message board, and we’ve remained close long after the page’s demise. They’ve stuck with me through all my crazy, supported and encouraged me, held my hand when i was lost and held me up when i was so low i had to look up to see dirt.
We have our own texting group on the phone.
I reach out as sobs are bubbling up and ask if anyone’s there.

They are.
They hop on in response to my need, and proceed to talk me off the ledge.
Helpmehelpmehelpmeplease. I’m trying not to cry but i’m crying. I’m crying alone at a table in a Subway restaurant.
Look down, they say, Look down and no one will see.
It’sokayyou’reokayeverything’sgoingtobeokay. Okay?
Okay.
Can you see 5 things? I say Yes, and whisper them out.
Name 4 sensations, 3 sounds, 2 smells…
I keep my eyes down, and smash the iwonderiftheycanhearmewho’slookingatme that comes and almost derails me.
Do you know any breathing techniques?
Yes! I can 4-7-8.
My no-yoga ass 4-7-8s its little heart out.
Quietly.
In a little curvy Subway chair that cups my rump and thighs and attaches to the table and another chair in 1 big piece.
They continue to text me and say good and kind and right things until the door tinkles open and gives me my husband. His warm and gently smiling face washes over me like a beam of sun and his strong hand knits through my shaking one as he guides me through the watercolour people and into his work van. It’s warm and purring inside, dark and quiet and safe. Safe metal box. Safe space.

I breathe into my collapse. My grateful release of sobs. Panic stops its painful squeezing and my body discharges into the night.

My mother would pick me up from the babysitter’s after work. When she turned left off Northmount before 14th Street, i knew. Sometimes, a man would already be there, waiting. On many occasions though, she would just drop me off in the parking lot of the park, where i would wait.
Wait for a man who was coming to hurt me.
Winter and weekends were the worst.
Weekdays they were usually prompt, but weekends seemed at times to take hours, and our winters are very cold.
My babysitter was the next suburb over, and my grandparents, the one on the other side. A few times i panicked and tried to find them, wandering the streets up and down, looking for help and safety, but never finding it.
Those times my mother would find me, get me into the car, and hit me all the way home. I’d run straight to my room, hoping she was too tired for anything else besides denying me food.

As my husband drove me home i was an earthquake in my seat. My thighs quivered helplessly, my knees knocked together, my shoulders shook, my body heaved and my guts writhed, nausea snaking its way into my mouth. I sobbed and retched as my body discharged and discharged, until i went completely rigid. I arched up against the seatbelt, as if in the grips of a seizure, and then everything let go and i fell back, limp and exhausted.

The panic was gone, and with it went the fear and embarrassment, too. And i wasn’t just emotionally spent, i was calm. I felt noticeably lighter. I felt relief. I felt clearheaded.
As we drove the 50 or so minutes home, i looked back upon what’d happened and i didn’t see failure. I saw success – i felt successful. I was less amorphous in my body; my thoughts and sensations felt firm, solid, like they carried physical weight. My head and my limbs weren’t trying to rise and float away from me, i could feel where they attached to my neck and torso. I was a human being, individual, and contained in 1 whole piece.

All this trying, all this trytrytry, try more, try again, wait and try harder, try different, try her, him, this, that, them. This struggle. This work.
It’s all brought me here.
My brain is afraid and it runs and hides.
My body hurts and it curls up tight like a fist and tries to make the pain disappear.
But all this struggle, all this work, all this freaking TIME i’ve put in, to figure out where i’m broken and put myself back together has brought me here.

Today i have a kit full of tools and a phone full of support.
I still slide and switch and freak right the fuck out, but today i can figure out why. I dig around in my bag and pull out something that helps. There are dozens –yes, DOZENS– of people who will love me and help me through it. The crises that inevitably come are not beyond my ability to cope. I’m no longer left drowning in wreckage, wretched and lost in the aftermath.

This is life as me.
It’s changing and it’s good.
And that’s storytime for today.
Be well readers, friends.

Love and Peace to You All,
~H~