Dream Shifts

This post might only be for me, but i’m sharing it just in case. I’ll put it in a new category, labelled Dream Journal. It’s weird, but what’s new?

So, i guess i’m dream-journalling again:

Been struggling with insomnia, and when i can sleep, it’s either for 8, 10, 12hrs, which is uncharacteristic, or frustrated tossing about and cursing, punctuated by brief, unsatisfying dozes.

And always whatever sleep is filled with dreaming, and the days, with headaches. The headaches can be mild, like an ache in the base of my skull that spreads cloudy pain in a band around my forehead. An asteroid belt orbiting my brain. There are worse ones though, and they’ve been more frequent. The band tightens and makes my brain feel like it’s swelling inside my skull, there are screws of intensity at my temples. These days those are near-constant. I can feel my eyeballs, 2 hot stones that bounce around and make my sockets radiate ache.
Plus, my dreams are escalating.

After weeks of struggle, i’m thinking my dreams are telling me they have something to tell me. Maybe they’re trying to get my attention. Weird, not-my-usual sort of dreams have been happening. I’m remembering a lot more of them too, when for years, outside of maybe a dozen or so a year, they were like trying to grab wisps of smoke upon waking.

I spoke of my dreams just a few posts ago, in “Mindful Dreaming”, so this journal will only include mention of dreams a fragments of, that i’ve had since.

Dream #1:

– Husband and i are at the neighbours to pick up something i left the last time i was there. They are wealthy, hospitable people, and invite us to stay for a cool drink by their pool. Hubby obliges with the man of the house, poolside, and i proceed to the kitchen with the lady. She’s kind, petite, elegant, the epitome of gentility and graciousness. We speak as those who don’t know each other well, but like each other much. We bring a plate of snacks out to the men, whose number has grown to 3. I sit beside the one that’s mine, who’s got a 6-pack of beer at his feet, and is tucking into his second. Odd, because he rarely drinks, and when he does, it’s only a couple, enjoyed slowly.

I’m looking around at all the lovely things they have, so tastefully decorated and well-maintained. Then i’m talking to a few other women and we are no longer by the pool, we are in a gorgeous living room. It’s sunken, with deep pile white carpeting. There are banisters providing a broken border on 3 sides. One side provides entrance to a luxe dining area. There are tables laden with an incredible array of desserts, including what look like driftwood logs that have split open long ago and spilled their contents. But the logs are made of chocolate, and what spills out are dozens and dozens of the most delectable looking chocolates – a veritable chocolaterie. And there are exquisite tea cakes of every imagining, served on tired plates made of fine china and gold. I make a note to GTF over there and get me some as soon as this person stops chattering at me.

One side of the room steps up and opens to a door leading to a hallway, which i know leads to other apartments like this one, although none of the rest have a pool, and this couple has the best apartment of all. (We don’t live there, we live in our own, much more humble home next door.) The door suddenly opens, and this guy comes in, looking like he just walked in from a retirement community in Florida. He’s very animated and blustery, and he emotes to the whole room about how he’s confessing that he’s the one who stole from Mister’s humidor. Further, he states that he’s not sorry, and proceeds to steal another box of cigars and runs back out, giggling gleefully. Mister laughs and says to the group of us, which has become more like a crowd, that he isn’t going to bother himself with that.
At which point, conversations and indulgences resume.

I then hear a voice coming from my right, and i cringe immediately because i know who it is. My mother is sitting in a chair above the sunken area, at one of the openings. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but i know it was bemoaning her life. I see she’s settling in to a speech: she sighs dramatically and stretches back. Her legs open, exposing her panties, and her gathered top comes undone, but she only pays it the barest attention. As she’s sighing deeply and fixing her soulful eyes on us, she makes a half-assed attempt to hold it up with her hand, but it falls open on one side, exposing her breast.
I said something like, This didn’t last long, and get up and head over to “handle” her. I’m burning with embarrassment.

Suddenly Missus gets my attention and hands me a beautiful piece of clothing. Taking it from her and turning it about in my hands i see it’s old fashioned type knickers, but the kind we wore in the 80s, that have a frilly sleeveless top attached. These aren’t ridiculous though, they’re perfectly stitched, frothy perfection. She tells me they’re a bit big for her and she thought that i might like them. I chuckle at her and say, A bit? and Thank you! Then she hands me a piece my own lingerie that i recognise immediately. I wondered aloud how the heck she found them, but that got lost as she handed me more lingerie, all in a rosegold satin pouch. I thought it contained one thing, but it was a complete matching outfit. Tasteful, well made, and obviously expensive. Then i saw there was another one, and another. Every time i finished looking at one, there would be another underneath it. They were all as exquisite and detailed as everything else, and i still remember many, incredibly minute details, which is odd for a dream, i think. I mark as of this writing, that while every outfit i saw was of a different colour: white, cream, gold and black, only one mostly white set, had any red, and that was merely a few stripes along with some black ones. There was nothing aggressively sexual – it was more like the wedding trousseau of a lady of some means.
I also mark that everything was a very average size, and i wasn’t worried about any of it fitting me, which has been the case for most of my life – whether asleep or awake.

I’m holding them up for the assemblage, and a beautiful woman who’s standing over a sofa filled with other ladies and talking animatedly with them, oohs and ahs, and comes for a closer look. It’s Reese Witherspoon, and she’s a dear friend of the lady of the house, and a minor one of mine.

I wake up.

Comments, Thoughts, Meanderings, Ponderings*:

– There is a quality in many of my dreams that particularly stands out in this one. I often have a tonne of backstory with both the people in interact with, and the places i go. I don’t know if it’s like that with other people, as i’ve never asked. In fact, i don’t think i’ve told anyone this before. There are long histories that are very clear and intricate, and well-known to me while dreaming, that mostly fade upon waking. Lately though, i’m starting to remember them, as i have here, although not quite as intense.

For instance, there are 2 trailer parks i’ve visited repeatedly: 1 is my own childhood home, but the other is an old, rundown, and vaguely sinister one with only a few, set far apart, with large, equally unkempt bits of land, where once were kept chickens, maybe rabbits, definitely sad, old dogs on chains in the hot sun. I’ve been there countless times, but never in my waking life.
Thankfully.
I don’t care to visit my childhood one at all, either.
Brains, huh?

– I think it’s obvious all the clothing is significant.

For one, the fact that i don’t fret about my size or the size of the clothes, which are obviously NOT plus-size, speaks volumes to me. It confirms that my image of myself IS changing. The last time i lost a lot of weight, i couldn’t see it. I still had what i now refer to as “fat eyes”. It’s like how i see other friends looking at pictures of themselves from years ago and saying God, i thought i was so fat back then, but i sure wish i was that weight now. Poor self-image, coupled with eating, food, and body/sex issues, made sure i basically couldn’t see myself realistically.
Screw lousy parents, and screw mean girls and bully boys, too.
Just sayin’.

For another, i think it’s significant that everything is tasteful and demure (as far as lingerie goes, heh) and beautifully made, and very expensive. Except the panties of mine that she found. They were more bold, say? Some might say bawdy. This lovely, sweet and elegant lady that everyone liked, was giving me something of hers, and then an incredibly generous gift of so much more. As i stated some time back in my piece about my husband’s and my relationship regarding intimacy (it wasn’t a big TMI, it was more vague references and euphemisms, also heh), we have stripped ourselves back to our beginnings, to figure out what we like/want, and don’t like/want; that includes as sexual beings. I won’t get too personal here, except to say i’m experiencing myself in a way expressed by those pretty, frilly, softly coloured, luxurious items.
I think it speaks both to who i am, and what i’m worth.

– Next, what about the barging in, rude dude?

About this, i have no clear inclination. I’ll have to marinate in all the questions i have for a bit. It’s like no one was put out by his loudness, or brashness, or confession, or his continued inappropriate behaviour. Well now, writing that out certainly gave me some ideas.
That’s why i’m doing this.
Is it me, and that no one minds my mental illness, my strange ways of behaving, my quirks and oddities?
I’m also reminded now that no one reacted to my mother at all.

– Let me tell you about my mother.

Just kidding. I’ve probably shared way too much for anyone’s level of comfortability or interest about my mother, but her appearance in this dream is significant, regardless.
It’s one of her rare appearances where she’s not the size she was when she died, around 500lbs. She was more of her size when i was 6 or 7, i’d guess around 170 or 180 (for 5’8″), which is not much over, in my opinion. She was younger and still had her looks. She was a pretty woman, before what was inside her began rotting her outsides.

She was removed from the rest of us.
She was above us.
She didn’t look at me or address me directly.

I was embarrassed, yes, but it wasn’t like in my childhood. The feeling i had was more like how one might feel when a sick relative who can’t help themselves does something. Like when i’ve been in full mania, walked up to random people, and asked them to score drugs for me. I wasn’t angry, either. She usually pisses me right off in my dreams of late – and i tell her so, which has been therapeutic as heck. But no, i was more resigned to the fact that my afternoon fun was over because i had to get her out of there and take care of her.
Weird.
Weirder still, but easier for me to ken, was the interference of the lady of the house.

Does the first mean that my rage and pain are finally dulling some? I mean, they have faded over years of therapy, but this new work i’m doing has brought the feelings back. It can feel fresh and intense at times. Am i letting go of things? Is my brain doing that, or my body, or both? And if it’s both, is it because i AM mending the connection between them? Something to ponder.

And further, who is the lady of the house?
That will require some time and more writing still, methinks.

Every single night
I endure the flight
Of little wings of white-flamed
Butterflies in my brain
… every single night’s alight with my brain
~ Fiona Apple, Every Single Night


*I’ve titled that as i did, because it’s what my therapist, the wonderful Ms T, asks me at the end of every session. Seems apropos.




Fallow Fields In Winter

WARNING: This contains references to childhood sexual abuse and trauma.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow…

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

~ Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man

This new year’s resolve to “write through the bad”, has been okay. (Good sounds better, but i’m not writing songs here, i’m emoting, dang it!) It doesn’t come naturally – i want to hide the unpleasantness and the uncomfortability until it’s passed, then turn a less passionate eye back upon it and create something easier to consume. To season it with the wisdom and hope of seeing clearly now, the rain is gone. A spoonful of sugar.
But this pushing through and sharing my struggles when i’m in the thick of it, is a vital part of what i wanted to do here, with this blog. And after more than a year of cutting myself some slack because it’s really scary and hard and what if it fails and i just look pathetic? it was high time to bite the bullet.

I lost a treasured friendship years ago, where her parting shot was to call me “disingenuous”. It was during the most chaotic time of my life, mentally speaking. I was learning what it meant to be a multiple, and getting to know my Bits N’ Pieces, while also in the grip of a powerful mania. I was in and out of hospital, i was barfing up the details of my childhood to a small group of people, including her, and i was switching and sliding around in the face on the daily. I was a bloomin’ shitshow. She broke up with me via private message, and it was like a shelf of scree peppering down and pelting the crap out of me as i’m climbing a mountain. Our friendship was intimate, on a level i’d not had with anyone else, and rejection is perhaps the core issue of my life. I slid hard after that. To be fair, that was happening anyway, but her completely unexpected and not a little vicious severing of our relationship certainly sped up my descent.

Oh, i knew how hard it was to believe in multiplicity. It seems ridiculous to begin with, and its portrayal in books, television, and movies has done it no favours. It’s weird and silly and awkward and cringy, and some of the best known examples of it have been soundly debunked. Take that, wrap it in my childhood programming that taught me to hide it from everyone including myself, and you have why i ran from the diagnosis until my early 30s. Hell, in my quest for mental health and happiness, i’ve met a lot of multiples, and i couldn’t stand being around them, either. Disingenuous fits them all quite aptly.

Well.
I just found another level of forgiveness for her. Which she’s never asked for and may not be necessary. I mean, i’m going to guess, based on knowing her as well as she let me, that it wasn’t easy for her to come to that decision, but she did what she thought she had to do. Nevertheless, there it is – forgiveness. I feel it for her, so she has it. We’ve not had any contact since that awful email, but the aether that my brain floats around in burns hotter and shines brighter, illuminating more spaces and warming more faces.

Writing through the bad, i’m tellin’ ya.

To continue though, that painful loss with its attendant accusation stayed with me. Part of the reason i only (well, mostly) wrote after my internal storms was because of this. By writing after, i was able to curate the information i shared, editing out the kookier bits. I’d feed my readers a familiar stew: veg, gravy, salt and pepper, and cubes of recognisable meats. No misshapen bits of offal floating around, which, although they’ve been slow cooked to tenderness and skillfully seasoned, taste foreign and smell slightly funky, and are otherwise off-putting to the uninitiated palate.

Still trying so hard to be liked, to stay safe.
Don’t hurt me, don’t leave me.

The time for that is ending, or why else have i worked this bloody hard?
I’m learning more and more about who i am. As i plod along and work at this bit of trouble, and bag up that pile of shit, and clean the sludge off this window, i’m taking shape. This is me – put it there. That is not me – punt it.
To know myself is my great adventure and the greatest gift i have ever received. That it is i who gave it makes it priceless. That it is only i who had it to give, makes me glorious.

And with that wonderfully flourishy wordpaint as background, it’s time to decorate it with some gloomy little clouds and some scarecrow-lookin’ trees.
A barren landscape.

The few times i’ve spoken of how broken i am, it’s made everyone uncomfortable. People hasten to assure me that i can be healed. The way that they say it sounds like what they mean is “put back to rights”. I’ve stopped bringing it up, for the most part, because i can see how it touches on something deep and private and in need of protection inside them. That i’ve been destroyed on a level that can never be made right, seems to make people break out in a psychic sweat, like it threatens their inner sense of security or their worldview. I don’t quite know what it is, but i trigger something. Even my therapist pushes back at it, suggesting we use another word. Not broken, she says, “disregulated”. I’m willing to concede that’s part of it, and also that she definitely knows more about multiplicity and the healing process than i, but one thing i’ll always know better than she will, is me. And to me, some of that push back is just putting lipstick on a pig.

It tries to steal a little bit of the truth from me, and although the intentions have some good in them, they cannot have even a tiny bit of it. Not for me, not for my system, and certainly not for the people making these claims. I’ve fought too hard and bled too much to give even a smidge of this terrible truth. I won’t dull the edge of its blade, i won’t blur the colour of its blood, and i won’t move one single stone to make the mountain weigh any less.
What was done to me was monstrous and horrid, and the price i paid was destruction.

Before today i have never written or talked about how vast are my wastelands, but today i feel full of medieval stories with valiant knights and darksided princesses. I’m Histrionica Butterfly, full of shit and poetry, and shitty poetry, and the icy cold wind that blows through me sweeps over a place inside me that is empty and dead, that feels nothing and cannot love.

**One more warning: This may be bleak and ugly to read. Be as sure as you can that you’re okay/safe to read it before continuing.**

The abuse in my life began before i could speak. There is enough evidence for me to confirm my feelings and my system’s claims that it began almost from birth. One night, while in the middle of the natural disaster that was 2006-2015, i dreamed of a baby. All the people that live in my brain with me were there, standing around her in a little bassinet. It was the prettiest baby pink froth of frilly lace and tulle that a child’s mind can conjure. They parted as i approached, heavy-legged and leaden-bellied.  I stepped up, peered in and there she was, but she wasn’t pretty and pink like her bedding, she was pallid, with a hint of blue. There was no warmth, no rise and fall.
She’s the first, they said, And she’s dead.

It was years before i told anyone (i think) and i’ve only told my husband (i think), that the first person i was, my birth-me, is dead. I say “think” because those years are foggier than most, and even now, when i speak of these matters, things are generally hazy and the potential for sliding around is great. I do remember well though, that he rejected it quickly – threw it away like a hot potato. I could see it distressed him to think so, even to think that i thought so.
I let him convince me i was wrong and i didn’t bring it up again.

Please understand that when i use words like “claim”, “believe” and “know”, i’m not using them in a scientific context. This stuff is barely science. My psychiatrist once said psychology is such a soft science one could call it squishy. What i’m doing is decidedly not science, and nebulous as fuck. It’s cerebrally located, manifesting nowhere, Matrix-level, fantastical fancy that blinks in and out, existing ephemerally, as i construct a framework upon which i can build my understanding of myself. A mental map and a family tree/genealogy of my system.

To find my baseline. To achieve homeostasis.
But as i gather information and my framework gathers form upon it, there’s a deadspace – an empty spot where nothing grows.

I’m rarely able to build intimate relationships.
I can get to a point where i’m close with a person, but there is a step i seem unable to take. I don’t quite know what it is, but former friends have been able to feel and/or identify it in me, and have walked away.  I know this because they’ve told me as much. There is a wall, a door, a blank spot, a NOPE sign. On rare occasion i’ve developed deep friendships, but i’ve sabotaged them all, eventually. I’ve driven everyone away, except my husband and children, and my husband is just pure anomaly, because i’ve pushed him harder than anyone.

My children are a special case. The things i so needed to do for myself that i could not, i was able to do for them first. To protect, to champion, to trust, to stay, to love. They confirmed that my mother was evil, and that i am not.

Touch is a minefield for me. I like it and i want it, but rarely and only from certain people. It’s a tricky business because touch is something we need from birth, it’s essential to proper development, to feed and nurture a healthy psyche and self image. So while i was held and fed, i was also physically and sexually assaulted.

How does a preverbal mind, one that has no concept of self, process that?

A brand new mind can’t, it isn’t developed enough, so the brain cuts the connections between sensation and emotion and thought. If disconnection happens often, and/or for long enough, these detached, untethered bits can develop a kind of rudimentary system of their own, a sophistication not unlike a personality. A thought, an emotion, a need, floating around without context or connection for enough time that it begins to become its own person.

This is how the endless push and pull between come-closer-don’t-leave-me and stay-away-don’t-hurt-me began. Before self-awareness. Before speech. Before i could even walk, the instinct to withdraw from pain had been quashed. I didn’t run away because i didn’t know that i should. I’d already built pain takers and fear dampeners and sick little bits that allied themselves with my abusers.
Bad girl. Be a good girl.

I don’t know when i put that baby away in that morbid, cartoonish bed and built that funereal viewing room, but i started dreaming about them once i accepted that i was a multiple. I have some very specific themes and motifs in my dream life. Bugs, streets in suburbia, getting lost in a maze, stealing, eating, abandonment by groups; there’s more. Getting to know my system produced new dreams, and they’re not so much disturbing as they are exhausting. I’m in a house, and i’m caring for children. The size and condition of the house varies, as does whose children they are and who else lives there, but it always devolves into chaos. The children become disobedient, or they disappear, or they become filthy or sick, and the house becomes more and more cluttered and dirty, and i’m exasperated by the children and ashamed of the mess…
And there is always that room with the baby in it.

I rarely go into the room, i mean, i can count the number of times on one hand and have fingers left over. Also, i regularly forget that the baby and the room are a part of the dream, but whenever i remember, i suddenly know she’s in all of them. She’s never alone – there’s always someone with her, watching over her. And sometimes the thing watching over her is the faceless darkness that is always in all of my dreams, sometimes pursuing me, mostly just there. Sometimes it’s content with hovering at the edge of the dream, but sometimes it makes a more insistent appearance, demanding my dream-conscious acknowledgment that it’s there. I’ve become rather adept at waking myself when it does.
I wonder how it feels about that.

This is hard for me, and my brain keeps wanting to cloud it all over, so words are echoing, and i’m getting tired, and it tries to tempt me with squirrels and shiny things, like sound, light, movement. I’m frustrated, verging on pissed off, so let me sum up:

I have a dead baby and an evil stalker.

There is a piece of me that is dead forever and can’t be resurrected. And that formless, terrible thing that is everywhere and always inside me fills me with dread. It sends out a constant simmering disquiet that covers a space inside me like a fog rolling over winter-fallow.

The work i’ve done and the person i’m currently working with have convinced me that a level of healing and health that i’d not thought possible, is in fact likely, as long as i continue onward in the spirit of dogged dedication that i have been. But i know absolutely that there is a place, a spot, a space, where a living thing will never grow, and a dear, tiny being that will never again draw breath.

I have more to say about this, and it’s not bleak. This part of me that vexes others so much, is integral to how beautiful and amazing i am.
Take care of yourself. Hang in there. Get help. Keep trying. Rest until you can try again. Don’t give up. I care and i want you to make it – so much so that i hang my weird naked ass out here for everyone to see.

~H~

Sleeping Women and Pockets Full of Tears

Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.
~ Alain de Botton

Today was an exercise in doing what i know can work, if I can just bloody do it. My lack of proper sleep is making daily functioning progressively more difficult:

– I’m getting nervous and overwrought, and having trouble regulating the intensity of my emotions. I can zerotosixty in seconds, without being aware that my foot was on the pedal;

– My internal world commands more of my attention than i’d like, and more easily, too. Talk amongst the Peanut Gallery is leaking out, in public places, in front of other people. Someone will be looking at me quizzically, or ask me to repeat myself, when i had no idea i’d said anything;

– I don’t have the energy required to do all or even a lot of the things that help keep depression and mania at bay, like walking the dogs and keeping the house shipshape. I’m exhausted when i wake up, and each morning a bit more so.

I’m functioning at a bare minimum right now, and i worry how much worse it will get before it gets better.
I go back to basics, though. I know to cut back until things are manageable. If the house and i don’t stink, and my family gets fed and has clean clothes – it’s enough. One day i can spend some time with a friend. One day i can give myself a pedicure. One day i make a nice dessert to follow supper.

I’m trying to make writing as close to a must as i can, without making me hate it like i hate mopping floors or talking on the phone. You know, an unavoidable drudgery. I’ll tell you what though, this piece is like pulling teeth and i don’t like how it’s coming together (or not – it’s not coming together for me). I don’t want to post it, but i will.
I’m not here to blow you away with how great my writing skills are.
As you can clearly see by that last sentence, they are not great.
What i have to offer, indeed, what i very much want to blow you away with, as it were, is how alike we are, you and i.
How you struggle, and i struggle. How you feel alone in it and you worry that no one will understand. Maybe you’ve tried to share about your struggles and the responses were not what you’d hoped, wanted, or needed. Maybe, like me, you’ve bought the books and attended the seminars and planted your ass in so many fruitless chairs, spending money and energy that you could ill afford.
And they’re all telling you how to do the thing to arrive at the place.

And maybe you’re like me and you don’t know if that’s the thing you need or the place you want to go, but what you’ve got and where you’re at ain’t it -you fucking know that- so you listen and you try and you hope…

I appreciate, so much, that most of those working in the mental health field seem to truly want to help. Their enthusiasm and sincerity seem legit, and nearly every person/place/thing i went to for help had something i could take away with me and use, but it was never quite right. Not alltheway right anyway – a little bit right, here and there. Little treats and treasures that i secreted in my pockets as i edged out the door.

It all helped me to know myself better:
I like this. I don’t like that.
I want this. I don’t want that.
This speaks to me. This sounds like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon.
I can work with this person. I’d rather chew someone else’s gum than work with this one.

Knowing myself, plus finding a professional i can work with, has been the basic recipe for my success so far.
I have no idea what will work for you, but after all the searching for help and answers that i’ve done over the decades, i think i have something to offer that may help someone (YOU?) to figure some things out – maybe get one step closer.

I offer a glimpse into how my brain works. What i think about what’s happened to me, what i think about my childhood and what i survived, and how i got through it. My thoughts about being bipolar, being multiple, and much more important than that – my thought processes as a person living with these particular challenges. I’ll share what i think about the people who hurt me and those who’ve helped – how i process their impact and how i package it all up and decide what shelf to keep it on.

I’m hoping you’ll see bits of yourself in me, not so that you can do what i did, but so you know that it can be done. I’m sharing my insides so you can see that i’m fucked up and flawed, and some of it was done to me, and some of it i did to myself. I’m probably more screwed up than you in some ways, and less than in others, but we’re both varying degrees of messy in various areas.
And i know full well that a lot of this mess ain’t mine, but if i don’t clean it up, no one will.

I think my brain is a hoarder of the highest order. It keeps everything – nothing is ever thrown out. NOT EVER. It’s all here, and it was piled from floor to ceiling. Some rooms were so full i couldn’t get into them. There was trash everywhere, but i couldn’t just shovel it all into a bin and have it hauled away, because there were precious, vital things strewn about in the clutter and disarray. My brain cannot be cured of its hoarding, and it cannot cope alone. I’m the homeowner and i couldn’t turf this beautiful, troubled creature out into the street. Instead i came and helped, as it agonised over every scrap of paper and broken bit of pottery. What to keep, what to toss, and what to give away. I brought in professional organisers as it allowed, and we went go through each room and put it to rights, starting at the front door and working our way to the basement, which desperately needed some repairs to the foundation. We’ve progressed to the attic, and it’s time get started, but we both hesitate. I’m tired and my brain is scared. That’s where it keeps the feelings.

Which brings me to yesterday morning.
Because it’s taken me a day and a half to write this blasted thing.
Between the dreaming, the lack of restful sleep, and the anticipation and trepidation of what’s coming in therapy, it’s a sign and a wonder that i can put pants on and string together an intelligible sentence.

So yeah, yesterday i had to take Kiddo to the doctor, and because i no longer drive, and i couldn’t find someone free to help us out, we had to hitch a ride into the city with my husband, and then we had to find something to do until he was done for the day and could drive us home. Which means there would be people and i must do the peopling.

I woke at 5, bone tired and in a sour mood. I tried to keep it to myself, but it was taxing, and my anxiety level was rising as the hour of his appointment approached.
A little higher getting my coat and boots on.
A little higher on the highway heading in.
A little higher entering the city limits.

By the time my husband drops us off at the doctor’s office, i’m stretched so tight my face hurts, and i’m inexplicably furious at him – so much so i walk into the building without a kiss, because i know i’m irrational and i’m pretty sure i’d bark at him if i got close enough. My son can see the strain and he’s quiet and gentle with me, checking himself in and then sitting down without talking like we usually would. He looks at his phone and gives me space until his name is called.

Hubby texts and i’m anxious and still a bit miffed, so i’m terse in my replies. He tolerates me because he knows what it’s about. I’m cranky, not abusive. Kiddo is done and i don’t want to leave, because then it’s the bus and people, and then the library and more people, and then lunch at some restaurant full of people. And i know they’re not looking at me, but sharing space with them makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. My switching tics have returned recently, and i’ve even started vocalising some of the chatter that goes on in my head. Little blurts of other voices. After years of effort spent trying to marshal my inner forces, to win the trust and respect of my battle-worn soldiers, they’re a bit excitable and i fear they may break ranks.

I’m texting with a friend, trying to remain calm, but not having much luck. I can feel myself slipping and tell my husband. My son wants to get food before we take the bus downtown, and i’m starting to twitch and i want to scream -actually fucking scream- and i start mixing up who i’m texting with and my friend sends a ???
My husband texts again and has arranged with his boss to take 2hrs off and get me home. Which you’d think would be great news and a relief and holyfrackisitever! so why is my body shuddering and my face getting all squinchy like i’m gonna goddamn cry?

I don’t cry. I get choked up sometimes, but i don’t cry. I can tear up over other people’s lifestuffs – i’m an empathetic person. And if i’m going to actually cry about something in my life, you’d better believe that happens by myself around 90% of the time – the other 10% is with my husband and i’ve likely been drinking…

My son wraps his arms around my shoulders and pulls me to him and says it’s okay, that everything is going to be all right. My face is wet and i’m getting snotty and i can feel my most trusted alter coming through to take care of things, because i’m crying in a public place and people are looking at me and this cannot continue, and i can’t stop it.

She helped me until i could come back. I don’t know what made it so that i could, probably just getting back home and taking some time, but things were okay, as we all knew they would be: my husband, my son, my friend on the phone, and i knew, and even most of my system. I know why i can’t sleep and why i’m dreaming so much, just like i know that i will get through this chunk of therapy and be a happier, more effective and functional human when it’s done. We’re going up to the attic, my brain and i, and we’re going to take those feelings out of their boxes, and we’re going to hold them until we know where they go.

I put my tears away until i got home, when i emptied all my pockets out on this page for you. Take care of yourself as best you can and i’ll do the same.

~H~

Image: Die Jungfrau (1913), Gustav Klimt

The Box

WARNING: If you are a multiple, this piece contains references to integration. Take care of yourself and your system. I also refer indirectly to childhood abuse, both physical and sexual. Think about it before proceeding. Talk to your p-doc or whomever is your mental health professional go-to.

**********

Paul Atreides:
What’s in the box?

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam:
Pain.

~ Frank Herbert, Dune

The silence has been frightening. It’s still not quiet in my brain – it never is unless i’m sleeping or unconscious. What i mean is that certain people who live in my brain aren’t talking anymore. It took a while to identify what the problem was, but i knew something wasn’t right because i began having trouble sleeping and i was dreaming more than usual. At first, my whole system feared they were dead, and wondered if everyone was going to die. I couldn’t sleep at all without nightmares, and even booze provided little escape. (I sure tried for a few weeks, though. Blargh.) I was losing time and feeling that old pull to “go home”, which is a place that doesn’t exist, and would be dangerous for me if it did.

I had the sense to get back into therapy, where the first thing i learned was that they weren’t dead, that none of us were going to die – that it’s impossible for any of my precious Bits N’ Pieces to die. They’re resting, or hiding even, and that’s okay by me. I came to understand that, contrary to what i’d assumed when i walked away from therapy — all cocksure and pleased with myself — i wasn’t done. I learned that maybe my brain and my body are healing so well that i’m evolving to a higher level of function that i’d thought was possible for me. I am currently, carefully, gently, quietly, considering the possibility that a lot of my voices may go silent. That there may be room inside my skull for nothingness. The pulse of blood and the throb of tissue, and soft, warm, blankety silence wrapped around space, thick, with no echoes.
Some call it integration, but i prefer my therapist’s term: homeostasis.
The instinctual tendency of the body to seek a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements.
When i’m cold i shiver. When i’m hot i sweat.
I shattered into pieces to survive the unsurvivable. I broke things into pieces that i could not process in order to live. I kept things away from each other so i didn’t die or go insane. I had a mom who fed and clothed me and told me i was smart and pretty, and i kept her for me, and then i chipped off a chunk of myself and made her handle the woman who beat me, and another who went for rides with strangers, and another who cleaned up and made dinner, and another who spent weekends with daddies and uncles.

I’m Humpty Dumpty. And the King’s horses and his men, too.
I’m the pieces in a quest movie. You know how it goes, they finally get all the pieces together in the right order, and then a glowy light flows through it all and some magical, glorious shit happens?
You know, except for the glorious part. I’m not feeling glorious.
I do feel the shit part, though.

So yeah, Sunday. Sunday i wake, sleep deprived as fuck, grumpy and snarky and in full fibro flareup, with my psychic skin about as thin as a gnat’s wing. I try to keep it to myself, because i know what’s going on with me and why, and it’s certainly no one’s fault that i live with…
But people are annoying, and no one more so than family. And they are in my space, breathing and being flawed creatures. I’m trying and i know they are too, but something happens with someone and i blink right out of existence.

It’s not a slippery slide from one part of me to another. It’s not like when i recede into the background and watch someone else standing in front of me. It’s not like when i’m suddenly slapped in a jail cell and i’m watching myself on a tv screen and  can’t reach the dial to change the channel (i’m that old, okay?). It’s a hard switch, when i disappear in an instant, like i’ve ceased to exist.
And unfortunately, it was just as hard coming back.
Suddenly, i’m looking up at my husband, and he’s got this smile on his face that i’m very familiar with – it’s the one he uses on young parts of me, when they’re afraid.
I feel myself lurch, once, twice, 3 times. It’s like when you’re going to sleep and you feel like you’re falling and your body jerks you back awake. I’m on my ass on the dirty gravel shoulder of a snowy back road. Our van is behind him, and a friend of mine stands to his right. He’s talking and she’s talking, but i don’t understand for a while. My brain is sizzling with synapses, trying to figure out what is required of me in this moment:

– an apology? (almost certainly),
– an excuse? (i might throw a generic one to see if it hits the target),
– can i safely ask a question?

Sometimes it’s not safe to ask, because i’m not with safe people. My husband’s dealt with this hundreds of times, so i trot out the old familiar, “What did i do?”
It’s a cut-to-the-chase question. I can tell i’ve been gone for some time, and my system has been handling things, and we both have a lot of experience with this, so let’s start dealing with whatever has happened.

I’m in my pajamas, with a very thin housecoat (funny story: it’s a hospital gown from one of many visits), with my winter coat over top, and i’m wearing my husband’s work boots. I’m covered in dirt, and leaves, and there’s sticks in my hair.
I know i’ve been out for some time, because i’m cold in my bones and my skin feels numb. My clothes are soaked through on the ass end, and it would seem i’ve been hiding in a ditch. He says he’s been looking for me for hours, and she says i’d been texting but had stopped. Even with warm clean clothes, hot tea, and a raging fire, it takes hours and hours before i’m warm. I need to cry, but i can’t; parts of me fight it hard. I eat because my body is starving, hubby gets take-away because i’m not functional, and he asks if i like it and i say it’s good, but i can’t taste a thing.

I’m numb and yet everything hurts and my brain buzzes like it’s full of old tv snow… And i still can’t fucking sleep.

This is writing through the hard parts. I don’t usually write until after the rough stuff passes. I want to look back and analyse, it feels safer. It’s easier to do when the feelings have faded. Word paintings with muted washes of watercolours. Instead i have this jumble of splotches, like a wannabe Pollock that’s just a weird bore. Trying too hard to be something.

It’s okay, though. I’m not mad, or even disappointed. I don’t need to tie it all up in a pretty bow with some pithy observations and sign off with forced optimism.
I can be pithy later (betcher sweet bippy), and i know from experience that the sun’s gone shine, cuz that’s what the sun do.

This is a process, and it’s never been easy. There’s no need to think it’ll be any other way now. I can do hard, hell, getting here has been so close to impossible i can smell the devil’s breath and feel the heat on the back of my neck. If it’s gotta be ugly and painful, so be it. I’ve come too far now to stop. I should literally be dead, many times over. There ain’t nothing so scary that i can’t live through lookin’ at it.

I’m scared, but it’s not the fear of a child: nameless, faceless, squeezing all the breath out of me with icy claws. It’s a fear of the unknown, but one i believe i’m prepared to face, and before which i stand, resolute. Come what may. I’ve said it many times since i read it in junior high, when the young prince that spoke them, first grabbed my heart and spirited it away in adventure and joy and wonder:

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

~Frank Herbert, Dune

I’m going to be putting my hand in the box very soon now. I think i’m as ready as i can be.

~H~
(Yes, this one is even more dramatic than usual – you’ve seen the name i go by, right?)

 

Slow Trees and Sweet Fruit

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.
~Molière

To be committed this year to writing through the bad, means that i must write today.
Because yesterday was bad.

I’m not sleeping well. I haven’t in months, but it’s taken a steep downturn these last few weeks. I don’t think i’m getting enough restorative sleep. I sleep without dreams for the first 2 or 3hrs, but then a dream will wake me, and after that i’m awake every half hour or so for the rest of the night. If i have a nightmare, i usually have to get up and write a bit about it before i can get back to sleep. In the morning i can usually catch another hour or 2 unbroken, but it’s not enough, and i’m not sure i’m hitting D-level sleep.

I’ve struggled with sleep issues since childhood:
It started with night terrors, which eventually got so bad my mother actually sought treatment for me (unless i needed stitches, i was generally on my own). Learning lucid dreaming helped me drastically improve my sleep, which was particularly important as a child with epilepsy.
Abuse would sometimes come to visit me in my room at night, so i’ve spent a lifetime as a light sleeper.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in ’95. It’s known to those who’ve heard of it as chronic, deep muscle pain, and it sure is, but what most who don’t suffer don’t know, is that it’s also characterised by an inability to reach the restorative level of sleep that follows REM.
Although i practised good sleep hygiene in my 30s, manic bipolar episodes regularly threw me waaaay out of whack, and i began using alcohol as a way to get some sleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it seemed to be a favourite way of my system to cope, too. Imagine that, heh. I’m sure you can imagine the price i paid for it, too. The problem wasn’t so much that, for me it was the toll it took on my husband and children.

The cost is simply too high.

These last few years have consisted of learning how to live with how my brain works, and building quality of life. I settled in to checking in with my brain at the start of the day, tailoring my activities to optimise function, monitoring my inside chatter and maintaining connection with my Bits N’ Pieces, and ending with a little roundtable at the edge of my bed each night. This was designed to set me up for success in the morning, and also to quiet my mind as much as possible, in order to achieve restful sleep.

I’ve plugged away rather successfully at this for some time now, i think. I set a very small goal, and i work slowly and methodically to reach it. Once i do, i practise it until it becomes an unconscious part of my daily routine, and then i set to adding in another little thing. I tweak things a bit here and there to improve my efficiency, and i’ve needed the odd course correction, but i haven’t gone too far astray. In fact, i did so well for so long a time that i felt like i needed to set bigger goals; things like working parttime, volunteering, and more peopling – including building friendships.

You may gasp now. Heh.
You may also understand how i found myself back in therapy, tits deep, and not sleeping for shit.

Looking back at the last year, at first i thought i’d been going too fast. Now, i think that may have played a part, but it’s not the crux of it. There’s a tinge of fear too, the waiting for the other shoe to drop, but that was my childhood. Once i got away from my parents, my physical and mental well-being were no longer in serious jeopardy. After that, when a bad thing would happen it could be traced back to some genuine responsibility on my part, usually accompanied by some unconscious actions/reactions and choices i’d made due to my upbringing.
It might also be something utterly out of my control.

But that’s not this. I think this is homeostasis.
I’m establishing a baseline. It’s a minimum level of quality and safety that i must have in order to live the life of my choosing. I’ve never had this before. I’ve spent most of my life just surviving, much more time than was necessary. I’m not blaming myself – it was all i knew, and like Maya Angelou said, when i knew better, i did better. And i’ve done better. So much better, in fact, that some parts of me are resting now. I think the nightlights inside my brain that various parts of me keep on for fear, my dear, hypervigilant little soldiers, are blinking off because they can finally rest. They’re leaving their posts to go home for a rest, and i think they may sleep for a very long time.

But hey, just because going too fast wasn’t what got me here — fucked up and freaking out — that doesn’t mean that slowing down isn’t part of the solution. I think it is. When i get upset and anxious i’ve learned that dialing it back a bit can free up some much needed energy to deal with the stress. And Boy Howdy! has there been stress.
I’ll tell you about yesterday, tomorrow.

See You Then,
~H~

Too Tired For Poetry

Sitting in front of the screen, waiting for words
that are ill-fitting at best
Like my aunt’s hand-me-downs that are too tight
even though she’s a decade older
I cram myself into them because there is nothing else
yanking down the hem every time i stand
I pull at the fabric, willing it to stretch
and to stay bigger, for the elastic to do the decent thing and give way
To at least have the decency to drape over my flesh
Coiled sausages sweating in the butcher’s display case
Discounted at the end of the day

I lay in my disco waterbed, hoping to sleep well
and straight through until morning, but words pour like ink
Drawing ominous images behind my closed lids
as they move, flowing towards the back wall
where my eyes are still open, hung there like a triptych
Squinching them tighter i see Thunder
throwing sparkling bolts of gold across the cream and white sky
An outdoor cathedral inside the red spiderweb
that can only be seen with a side glance
Fireworks and blood rain down, pattering ghost skin
They howl up at the moon of my inside-out face

Come With Me

Come with me, I said, and no one knew
where, or how my pain throbbed,
no carnations or barcaroles for me, 
only a wound that love had opened.
~Pablo Neruda, Come With Me, I Said, And No One Knew (VII)

Surprise twist movies have been done to death. I’m over them, especially when there’s nothing much going for it besides the twist, which is often the case these days. There are some that stand out because the story is masterfully told, the buildup too subtle to notice until it’s revealed. With them it’s like suddenly, the entire landscape of the story changes, becoming something you hadn’t foreseen, and looking back you almost can’t see what it once was. And now, oh! how you see all the little clues, and feel a fool, for you’re certainly clever enough and experienced enough in these things to have seen it coming.

I should have seen it coming.

I’m not exactly full of myself about it, but i am proud of all the hard work i’ve done. I’ve accomplished more than i’d thought i could, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that i was afraid that i wouldn’t be able to get this far. Yet i’m here. I stubbornly, doggedly, resolutely, and with no small amount of backing myself into a corner and its resultant terror, have managed to be able to navigate the day-to-days of an almost-normal life. I must do a great many things that most others do not in order to achieve this, but these things have become a part of my daily routine, my mental toilette, if you will. My life is ordinary and average, and by me being me and it being so, it is absolutely not.
Well! Heh. I guess i do sound a bit conceited.

It’s funny (peculiar AND haha), i’ve almost always guessed correctly and way ahead of time when the twist is that someone’s a multiple (what a sad, tired trope that is, UGH). Not only do i know personally what it’s like, but i’m a smug and jaded movie lover from way back who has pissed off many a friend and family member by guessing the end, and taking an annoying amount of satisfaction in how smart i am. (Don’t hate me – i don’t do it anymore unless i’m with my husband, who must legally tolerate it, or someone who also loves guessing.)

I see dead people.
Just kidding, i only hear people who aren’t actually real and am occasionally possessed by them. It’s no big deal. Not really. Not comparatively or relatively or even practically. I did all this work and now i have this life. There will very likely always be the odd hiccough here and there, but i have this life now and i made it, and i like it this way. I’ve had enough change, and turmoil, and chaos, and drama to choke a horse, feed an army, and slap your mama. I’m happy and satisfied with this quiet, bucolic existence.
I figured i’d plug along like this for the rest of my life. Well, i think that’s what i thought.

I try not to think too much on the future, as it tends to trigger anxiety and depression. Most of my long term successes have come from small tweaks to thinking or action, built upon slowly. Sweeping changes and massive lifestyle overhauls can easily kick me into mania, which usually finds me at least 3 steps back when the dust settles.
If life is Mario Bros., i play all the way through. I know i can skip through quickly and just ride that flag to the top, but i collect all the powerups and coins available before i level up. And I don’t skip any levels either, for the same reason. When i get up to those tougher levels (like Ice World – fuck that world, man), i know i’m going to need extra life, and all the mushrooms and stars i’ve got to make it out of there.
I need to be prepared with a strong foundation, and i need practise to succeed. I need to go slowly too, because i’m clumsy and i stumble – regularly, and hard.

I keep my eyes on the ground in front of me. I choose where to put my foot next. I do look up periodically, lest i walk off a cliff or run into a tree, but i’m more concerned with firm footing, and avoiding the odd stone or embedded root.
And i’m the type that does better by looking back and seeing how far i’ve come, rather than looking ahead to see how far i’ve yet to go.
I could see some potential for trouble up ahead, but what i couldn’t see was that i was slowly descending into a valley. The scenery changed very gradually, and it all looked fine until dusk. I look up and around me now, in all directions, and it’s all vaguely sinister. I’m standing here, trepidatious, afraid to take the next step. The warmth of the day is fading with the light, replaced with the chill that tags along with the bleeding of the night, seeping into my bones as dread.

I’m frozen here. I’m unable to move. I can’t tear my eyes away from what is ahead of me. It’s like the dirty snow on the screen of my tv when i was a child, at the end of the programming day. I’d stare at the funny coloured bars that would pop up after the playing of the national anthem. The fear would gather slowly in the pit of my stomach once the late night news was over. If i was lucky there’d be a movie, but often it was just some old cop show, like Barnaby Jones or Cannon. They scared me a little, but i suffered them because it was better than being alone. My mother would be out somewhere, doing whatever, and i was 4, 5, 6 (and older), and terrified of the dark and being alone. Of course i was, and that box filled with pictures and voices of people was company and distraction from the places my superpowered, mutant imagination could take me. Would take me. Even just with the snow, at least it was a beacon of light, and i’d stare at it, and imagine i could see figures and hear whispers… The movie Poltergeist triggered me so hard; those glowing, dancing specks were alive for me, too.

What i see before me is like that dirty snow – it buzzes fuzzily, like millions of bees crammed together yet still in flight. But it’s not greyish white with black flecks like that old tv with the foil wrapped bunny ears, it’s black. It’s dozens of shades of black, giving depth and detail, giving off heat like a fever or infected flesh. It’s insidious.

I can’t walk into that, let alone through it.

I can’t talk about the fear that’s in me and on me every day now. Sucking all my energy and wearing at my will, making me snappish and easily hurt. I hide and i switch and i often cannot get more than a half hour’s sleep at a time before dreams wake me. At least with dreams i can go back to sleep, but when the nightmares come i’m up, sometimes for an hour, sometimes until i get my family up and out for the day, when i’m sometimes able to nap a bit. I don’t know if i can do this work that’s presented itself for me to do.
I know myself and so i know i’m going to try – my hardest, my best – but i sincerely don’t know if i’ll succeed, or even if that’s possible.

Today i am leaning on my New Year’s Resolution to blog through the bad.
Sorry it’s mostly just a nonsensical mishmash of metaphor and analogy, seasoned liberally with histrionics, but it’s what i can do, for now.

the geysers flooding from deep in its vault:
in my mouth I felt the taste of fire again,
of blood and carnations, of rock and scald.
~Neruda

Image: Promotional poster from the movie Poltergeist (1982)

 

Homeostasis

ho·me·o·sta·sis
/ˌhōmēəˈstāsəs/
noun
  1. the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.

This has been a good year; my most functional to date. I stopped hermitting, made a couple of friends, and reconnected with some old ones. It’s the year that i added exercise to all my lifestyle changes regarding food and eating, and all the work finally started paying off with some significant weight loss. I took up some parttime work, and i began volunteering my time in a couple of areas that matter to me.
By the time summer rolled around, i’d hit my stride and was feeling successful, and also like it was just the beginning.

Fall brought a change in the weather, dead leaves picked up and strewn about by chill winds, sucking the warmth from the ground, bringing the kind of silence that fills your ears and echoes in the stillness.
It’s analogous to what was happening in my brain; old voices whispered into an unsettling quiet, invading the hush. I shushed but they persisted, until i was so full of sound my body couldn’t contain it and it spilled out of me like Shhhhhhhh, bleeding off the pressure like a tire with too much air.

Dreams, too many, then nightmares and sleeplessness, and then the old urge to run. To get away, to go home, and for the first time in a very long time, wondering if it might be better to just stop. I didn’t know why it had gotten quiet, but i did know that it had caused fear and panic inside me. I went looking for answers in the dark corners of myself, but i only found emptiness, a yawning blackness where something once had been. The voices following after, soughing through my head like wind through trees.

No sleep, no peace, the anxious murmurs, old bones rustling like ancient scrolls. I have trouble hearing my therapist over the susurration – she repeats everything once, twice. Again please. Sorry.
She doesn’t say “integration”, she says “homeostasis”.

My switching tics return.
I stop exercising because i keep trying to “go home”.
I pull away from people, from work, from helping.
I don’t fit in my body correctly.
I break my ankle.

Maybe it seems like my year started out good, got great, and then got fucked.
Kinda accurate.
Maybe it looks like i started out walking, broke into a run, then tripped on a stone in the road and went sprawling.
I mean, that does look like road rash.

All those years spent fighting the urge my parents programmed into me to go home. I think in resisting it i found true direction. My Fortress of Solitude. My true north.
Homeostasis. HOME.

This has been a good year.

**********

I have some resolutions. I have some little goals and some bigger ones. I intend to continue on as i have been, one foot in front of the other, pushing doggedly forward, adding one kilometre onto the next, putting distance between myself and the place i was told to go, and instead heading towards the place i want to be.

My resolutions this year are less nebulous, more distinct and definitive.
They are little things like building my wardrobe to better reflect my own personal style, and having exercise be an integral part of my personal hygiene, like showering and brushing my teeth.
They are bigger things too, like blogging and keeping in touch with family and friends. Deepening my relationships; letting worthy people in a bit more.
Returning to helping and growing its scope.
Getting my house shipshape, top to bottom. Declutter. Organise. Move Kiddo downstairs and finally turn his room into my makeup/change room, with a day bed and a light-up mirror.
Keep moving our home toward healthier eating.
Read more fiction, and maybe even write some?
Blog more than last year, maybe even through the tough bits this time?

It’s 5:37am on January 1st, and i was woken by a bad dream a couple of hours ago. I got up, got a cup of tea, recorded what i remembered of the dream, and then i brought up my blog and clicked that little rounded rectangle button that says WRITE, with a plus sign, and bashed out this wee thingy.

Not a bad start to the year.
Homeostasis right now looks like bed and hubby-shnuggles.

Love and Peace To You, and Happy New Year!
~H~

It Was Awful and It’s Enough

This is mostly about memories. It’s a massively complicated field, especially for the one who holds them. Mine is like a demilitarised zone, burdened by landmines everywhere and sudden bursts of friendly fire. I’ll share a bit about my experiences with my memories over the years, and i’ll try to communicate how i’ve sifted through the wreckage and managed to deactivate some and tiptoe around others.
I live with my memories as i live with my people: We have an arrangement. I own the land they’re on so, my turf, my rules.

In case it has not been clear heretofore, i live with Bipolar Disorder and multiplicity. I will explain my word choices.
When i look at the definition of BP, i fully agree, including the characterisation of it as a disorder, which means a mental condition that is not healthy. I use the term “multiplicity” because i do not agree that “dissociative identity” or “multiple personality” is a disorder.*
I see being bipolar as an injury, whereas i see my multiplicity as more of a mutation. My survival was at risk, and my brain found a way to alter (haha) itself and save my life. Calling that a disorder deeply offends me. It dredges up feelings of resentment and bitterness, because i fought the diagnosis and blocked myself from getting the help i needed for so many years, due to the misunderstandings, mischaracterisations, tropes and morbid fascination surrounding it. I view my bipolar behaviours as dysfunctional, but i see my multiplicity as creative or differently functioning. Further, it suggests that the parts of my brain that may technically be me, but aren’t quite me, are a sickness or a virus that needs to be eradicated. As a collection of various bits and pieces, we view this as tantamount to murder.

(As a brief aside i would like to impress that these opinions are my own. I don’t take my thoughts and conclusions about my diagnoses and apply them to anyone else. If you’re bipolar and/or multiple and you see things differently, i don’t think you’re wrong. This is only how i view things through the lens of my own life experience, my own personality, my own personal philosophy, and what i believe to be truths. I’m looking through my own kaleidoscope, facing the sun at a particular time and place in the sky, twisting the tube and marking the bits of coloured glass where they fall. You have your own cylinder of mirrored magic, and i’d love to hear what you see when you look through it. Tell me who you are and i’ll believe you.)

I have memories from very early on. I’d be relating things to other family members and they’d ask, “How can you remember that?”
My grandmother was a teacher, and she taught me to read very early. She saw my gift for memorisation and gave me poems and portions of books to learn and recite back to her. When Mom picked up on it, she’d get me to do it too. She was a single mother on a tight budget who often had to bring me along to adult functions, and i would sit there quietly reading and committing to memory whatever she’d given me. Sometimes she’d make me demonstrate my abilities to the people gathered – she loved the attention.

I also remember my dreams. They go back almost as far as the memories, i think. To this day all my dreams fall into distinct categories and are filled with recognisable patterns and motifs. I was terrified of the dark and plagued with night terrors. Mom was mostly just irritated by it all until i was diagnosed with epilepsy. Then she was able to milk sympathy from everyone, and money from her parents. It also gave her a reason to get me in bed and out of her hair a couple of hours earlier, because proper sleep was paramount to controlling the seizures. This proved problematic for both of us because of my sleep issues. She found someone who could help me (her), and i saw him a few times. He taught me lucid dreaming. I met him in an office and he had nice furniture, so i’m going to guess he was somewhat educated. He might have been an MD or a p-doc or a counsellor with accredited courses under his belt. Regardless of his education, i took to his instruction like the proverbial duck to water, and my ability to fall asleep and stay asleep improved measurably.

I wish i knew who he was, because he saved me in more ways than he or i or anyone could have known. He taught me to examine my dreams: to think about them, talk about them, even write them down. He had me prepare for sleep, too. I would lay in bed and purposely think about prior dreams that had scared me, and tell myself firmly that i wouldn’t be dreaming about those things that night. He had me remind myself that i could get away from anything that scared me in a dream by either waking myself up, or doing something creative within the dream to change things, like fly away (which is awesome, and i can still do it). Then i would use the breathing techniques we’d practised in his office and i’d fall asleep.

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you might already know that as a multiple, my imagination is practically a super-power, and although my fear of the dark persisted until i left home and i would still sleepwalk occasionally, my night terrors stopped.

Once away from home and relatively out of my mother’s reach, my dreams began changing, becoming horrific once again. The subject matter was sexually violent and bloody. Although i was still adept at lucid dreaming, i was frustrated in any attempt i made to control these dreams. At best i might be able to wake myself up, but often i was helpless until it was done with me. In these dreams i felt heavy and had terrible difficulty in holding my head up or moving my arms and legs. Everything around me was distorted, including sounds. I could hear cries of pain and pleasure, and there were thick, awful smells that made me actually retch. I remember the therapist telling me that if i wasn’t certain whether i was dreaming, to pinch myself hard. If it didn’t hurt, then i was dreaming. But i was almost never able to,  and i’d usually cry or scream myself awake. I’d realise that i’d been dreaming, but i could still smell the smells sometimes, and my body would hurt where it hurt in the dreams, including my arm if i’d been able to pinch it.

I learned to live with the dreams, what else could i do? They faded over time, and once i had my first child i only suffered the bloody ones a few times a year.

I’m going to fast forward through finding love, having more children, gaining and losing a tremendous amount of weight, losing my religion (lalala), and being diagnosed with both multiplicity and Bipolar Disorder. I’m going to pick up again where i’m trying to keep myself alive and out of the Bin, and it is REALLY FUCKING HARD, because i’m drowning in a sea of memories and my dreams won’t leave me alone, and i have realised and accepted that there are, to all intents and purposes, other people who live in my head and holy shit! do they have a lot to say about EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME.

Then they tell me that some of my dreams are actually memories, and my whole world explodes.
And here i’d thought it already had.
Hahaha! Nope.

What followed was a massive purge. I liken it to when you’re eating something that tastes okay, but then your mom tells you it’s not the usual chicken stew, it’s actually the wild rabbit that’s been nibbling the cabbages in the garden, teeheehee… And your stomach suddenly clenches up and you know you’re gonna catch hell for it but that bunny is comin’ back up.

I spilled everything that was in my head out into my husband’s lap, sorting through it, picking up various items for closer inspection, grabbing him for support, shaking him as things became horribly clearer, shaking him as i was shaken inside. Recognising voices that i’d always assumed were random thoughts like everyone else had. Learning that they weren’t, that they were me yet not quite, that they were siblings and friends and protectors, yet all of them my own children somehow…

Feelings attached to dreams-that-weren’t-dreams.
There was the awful, sickening internal thud, as these memory-stones that had been floating through my brain-space were finally weighted and overcome by the terrible gravity of my knowingness.
They fell, one after another, like a meteoric hailstorm, scorching the ground and leaving massive craters. I could do nothing to stop them, only watch as they burned until they could burn no more.

Those dreams, those terrible movies that played in my head while i was sleeping, now i knew they weren’t horror movies that i’d directed.
I’d always feared i must be twisted, perverted, and depraved, because children don’t think like that, but my dreams had always been so putrid, so filthy. As an adult i knew i was sick, because i could see nothing like it in my own children.
It was always with me; a shadow, a secret that i tried desperately to keep, a constant plaguing surety that if you reeeeally knew me…

Relief came, relief because i wasn’t a depraved degenerate! but it was bitter and short-lived as it was quickly consumed by feelings that my people had been absorbing and holding for me for so long. They unleashed a torrent that swept me into the cesspool that i swam in for the next decade or so.
But while i was soaking, wallowing and marinating, i was able to identify a lot of the crap that was floating around in there with me.

Metaphors and poetic imagery aside now – i went to science for help. I’d left religion behind some time before, and any belief in the supernatural soon after. I knew that scientific study had found some answers about the brain, and specifically how memory works, so that’s where i started.
I read scientific, peer-reviewed articles on mental illness and how my particular set of challenges affects my brain functions. I learned what skepticism is, and have tried to be a good skeptic ever since. I try to think critically and rationally. I learned about memories and the effects things like trauma, drugs, and time can have on them.
I learned to look for corroborating evidence; i asked family wherever it was possible and safe for me to do so.
My yardstick became a phrase made popular by Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.
I let go of the need to be right, the fear of being wrong, the idea that i needed to justify my life to anyone, and instead focused only on what i could reasonably believe to be true.

My dreams were finally able to offer some help. They come, regularly, in their highly stylised, easily categorised ways; full of recognisable imagery and well-used motifs. The ones i can affect or alter, are of my own imagining. The ones that hold me in their bloody grip and i can only rarely escape through the sheer horror/terror of them, or my own cries and screams waking me… Well, those are memories. Even those though, can be suspect. Yet still, i can suss out some truth. Some of them have what i thought at first to be a dreamlike quality to them: blurry, melting colours, strange shapes, unnatural creatures, unlikely behaviours and the like. But i know i was often made docile or malleable with the use of drugs, so even those become a confirmation of a kind.

And some of that truly fantastical stuff that i shared with my husband and a few trusted friends? Some of it almost certainly never happened, and some of it may very well have, and although i might like to know for sure, i do not need to.
Because this: Even if i’d never had any realisations, never got my diagnoses, never figured out a damn thing, even if i’d just kept truckin’ along with what i’d been present in the face for, even if all i had was my own flawed recollections from about 4yrs old and upward…

IT WAS AWFUL AND IT’S ENOUGH.

I’m the kind of person that is curious and wants to learn about stuff and wants to know things. The more emotional garbage i toss out, the more organised i become mentally, the more functional i am on a day-to-day basis, the more i am freed up to learn and to know more stuff.

I want to believe true things and be a good human.
I am muddling my way along to that end.

Love and Peace,
~H~
*I do use the terms “MPD” and “DID” in my tags, so those interested and others of like mind may find me.

Dark Dreams

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
~Edgar Allan Poe

I’m not sleeping well. Not at all. There’s so much going on up there in my brain that it’s spilling into my sleep. I figure i’m getting enough restorative sleep, otherwise i don’t think i’d be accomplishing as much as i am, but still, the constant interruption is wearing on me. I’m getting crotchety in the mornings, and i’m not like that. Even when i lived the life of a nighthawk or had a blistering hangover, i was merely silent, not cranky or truculent. I had a feeling it was coming though, and had the sense to warn my husband and son. I asked them to try to cut me some slack if i seemed a bit testy, and assured them i’d be working hard on handling it.

There has always been a lot of conversation in my head, and i thought that was how it was for everyone until i was well into my 20s. I didn’t know that most other people didn’t have a constant running commentary going on in their head. I’d hear them say things like, “That’s my mother talking,” or “I can hear what they’re gonna say already,” or “I could hear their criticisms,” and it sounded like what was happening for me, so i didn’t question it. It wasn’t until i started getting the MPD/DID diagnosis that i began to realise that the voices in my head weren’t all exactly mine, nor were they some imagined comment from someone else based on relationship or personal issues, i.e. a random thought.
The talk in my head has meat to it. Personality. There’s a quality to it like i’m eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation. I don’t think i can communicate this very well, but there’s almost volume in the voices. I know it’s in my head but i don’t think them, i hear them.

My dreams are more intense than they’ve been in many, many years, and i’m taking notice. Something’s going on, and it’s important. Important to them, so i’ve been bringing a notebook and pen to bed with me. I wake from a dream and i turn on a small light (hubby works and needs sleep), sit up and immediately jot it down. Well, maybe not jot. I’ve been recording my dreams for 3 nights now and i have a lot of full pages. I’ll do it a couple more nights yet before i take a good, hard look at them.

I’m waiting because i’m seeing a pattern.
I think they’re telling me something, i think i’ve already got an idea what’s coming, and i just need to let it percolate up there a bit. Prepare myself emotionally, because what’s coming is details.

There came a day when i decided to entertain the notion that i might be multiple. It was after years of flat, terse denial. That should have been my first clue, as my affect is neither flat nor terse. At that time i was either very big, or very small – there wasn’t much in between. I was either right THERE! inches from your face, or nowhere to be seen.
I considered it because my counsellor at the time was a person i trusted. I started seeing her through my fundamentalist, charismatic church, but even though she worked for them, it wasn’t hard for me to see she wasn’t one of them. We both wanted very badly to belong, but (fortunately, says i) neither of us did.
I trusted her enough to let her suggest, gently and kindly, smiling and cocking her head sideways at me, that even though she knew how i felt about it, she had consulted with a psychologist friend of hers who specialised, who agreed with her diagnosis of multiplicity. And because she had built relationship with me, for the first time i actually listened, rather than left immediately or just never came back.

It was maybe a week or so later that i was thinking about my dreams. They’d been firing off in my trying-to-sleep brain much more often than usual. I was walking every hour or 2, and needing 5 or 10mins to get myself together enough to even attempt sleep again. My nerves were frazzled and my emotions in tumult already, and the disturbing dreams, coupled with lack of sleep, had me at a near fever pitch. I was rolling all the dreams around in my head, considering what they meant, when a voice i had only heard once before, said something that, like it had before, changed my life wholly, fully, and instantaneously.

When my oldest son was still a baby, and it was just he and i living in a cheap 2-bedroom apartment, i heard a voice. It wasn’t in my head – it came from the other room. It wasn’t male or female, and although not robotic, it lacked any emotion. It told me something my mother used to do to me when i was still in diapers. A terrible thing. I had never thought her capable of such evil, but as soon as the voice spoke it, i knew it was true. Years of certain fears and behaviours suddenly made perfect sense. I promptly ignored the voice and pretended it didn’t happen, but as i confronted my childhood abuse, i acknowledged that voice once again and the terrible truth it had told me.

That voice spoke to me again as i was considering my counsellor’s diagnosis. I was contemplating my dreams with this tentative new context. I heard it coming from another room, and it simply said, “Those are not dreams.”
I felt cold and hot at the same time. I started sweating, i was both nauseous and nauseated. I was dizzy, and my head felt split open by a sudden, thumping headache. My eyes were hot in their sockets, and my knees were suddenly weak and my hands were numb.

…And i dissociated quite quickly afterwards and tried valiantly, but in the end vainly, to keep that information in some part of my brain where i now knew i kept stuff like that. Just as it had happened before with that voice in the apartment as i changed my baby son.

So, i know i just did 2 flashbacks and those can be confusing. I even did a flashback within a flashback, but we’re back at present day now, okay?

The reason i think that details are coming is because these dreams i’ve been having remind me of some of those dreams that voice told me were true. They’re not quite memories, but they’re much more detailed and make more sense than my regular dreams. Plus, my regular dreams almost always fall into well-known categories. These don’t. And today, i’ll give you one more reason than i had yesterday.

I’ve taken a number of days to write this post, and since i wrote about how i think maybe my Peanut Gallery is trying to communicate through dreams, i’ve not been able to remember a single one. I know i’ve dreamed, as i tend to wake up after them.

Brief Aside: It’s a skill i learned very young. I suffered terrible nightmares all through my childhood, and i would just drift from one nightmare into another – trapped and unable to escape. Without any instruction, i taught myself lucid dreaming. I think it was a matter of survival, as my sleep was constantly disturbed, i slept walked regularly, and my epilepsy was becoming more of an issue because of it. Over the years i have become quite adept at waking myself from any dream i don’t want to have.

So yeah, i’m waking up a couple of times a night still, and i have that feeling that i was dreaming something, but when i try to focus on details it’s like my fingers trying to grab hold of smoke. I think what that means is i received the message, and so now they can return me to my regularly scheduled sleep program.
Thank goodness, because i’ve been a bit weirder than usual. Strange thoughts emerging as odd sentences that even make my family arch a brow and ask, “Say what, now?”

I’ll take a look at that dream log soon. I need a bit more time and sleep yet.
The last 2 nights have been fairly restful, so i came back to this blog post this morning and proofread from the beginning. I think it may not be the easiest post to follow, but i made a couple of revisions and moved some things around and hopefully it’s not completely nonsensical. It can be difficult to know if i’m making myself understood, as my brain sometimes works quite differently than other folks’ do, but i try my best.

It is a big part of why i began blogging, after all.
Y’all have a good Saturday, or whatever day, if you can.

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.

~Charlotte Bronte

Love and Peace,

~H~