The Tide

I have lost my safe space. It took me years to create and it’s gone. Getting acknowledgment of this has been difficult. Creating change can’t happen without it, nor can the work to make things right again be done by only one person. I cannot do the work that i’ve begun in therapy unless i get my safe space back. I must have a place where i can decompress, where i can be broken, where i can be vulnerable with no (reasonable*) fear.

It never rains but it pours.
I was berating myself for the issues people i love have, but i pulled myself out of it relatively quickly, thanks to some recent work i wrote about a couple of posts ago.

Things have been at such a crisis level that i considered putting therapy aside for a while. In crisis, it is my old pattern to dissociate and do what i think i should do. What i was taught to do was care for everyone else’s needs and to only have thoughts and feelings for others. Well, i can think of myself, but only how i’m not good at helping and i’ve caused my loved ones’ troubles. I’m allowed to think about how i’m bad and i’m a failure.

Fortunately, the personal work i’ve done and am currently doing, made stopping therapy like trying to hold back the tide. Can’t nobody do that, not any of me and not any of them.
That tide rushed in and washed it all away like so many children’s sandcastles.
No stopping. No old ways. Clean salt spray and pristine beaches.

My family is involved, so i won’t be going into specifics, only to say that i’ve been asking for change, but alone in the fight for it for a long time. I’ve been feeling so hopeless after therapy, and up until a few days ago, i didn’t connect the 2 things. Here i will point out that all the work i’ve done to learn about myself, to figure out how i work, and how to get healing and happiness, is invaluable. All the credit for figuring this shit out is mine.

Noticing my distress – that part was easy. Heh. Crying, feeling physically numb and emotionally disconnected (dissociating), switching, drinking, taking off, not eating or sleeping.
Looking at how that upset was manifesting, and then turning my eyes and ears inward, to see what my system would show me and hear what my body is trying to tell me. That second part is not so easy for me. It’s terrifying to me and therefore pretty goddamn hard.
My parts feel threatened and don’t like the atmosphere, and my legs want to get me the fuck outta there. It was so simple once i did those things; checked in to my body and was present and fully conscious of my own thoughts. It came pouring out of me in a rush. A relieved, grateful rush. A tidal wave.

Telling my loved ones what i need and calling out things that are unacceptable to me has helped tremendously.
I think i’m coming into the part of my healing where i refuse to tolerate shit anymore. This is a scary, awful time, but i also feel stronger, more powerful. EMPOWERED by my own actions. As soon as i stood up for myself i felt better. Less scared.

Less scared not to be heard.
Less scared not to be understood.
Less scared to be rejected.
LESS SCARED TO BE ALONE.

My loved ones will hear me, and they will work with me until we understand each other. They won’t reject me nor will they leave me. I know that, i truly do, but when i’m not PRESENT and CONSCIOUS and checking in with my system and more importantly now, CHECKING IN WITH MY BODY… Things can get fucked up mighty fast.

I need my safe space back.
My Bits N’ Pieces need my safe space back.
My body needs my safe space back.
I built this space with my heart and my mind and all my hard work and commitment to my love of my family and my desperate desire to love myself. This place is mine and no one can take it from me, and i know no one actually wants to, but it is an incredible feeling for me to be all fired up like this:

No one, whether dear to me or not, can have this space.
I’ll fight any motherfucker.

Until next time, take as good care as you’re able, and i promise to do the same.
Love and Peace,
~H~
* I say “reasonable” because being vulnerable is probably the hardest, most scary thing i have ever done.

Schmozzle

I usually write after the bad stuff has happened, but recently, i’ve been trying to write through it, to open myself up a bit more. I write for me, and for anyone reading this that might find benefit… The days following my last post were decent, i could feel myself settling in to what’s coming in therapy – going deeper and tuning in to the story my body wants to tell me about my childhood. I got back into some regular activities and regimens: housework, hygiene, communicating with family and even a couple of friends. Normalcy, and with it, some peace.

Unfortunately, my physical health has taken a nosedive. I’m in full fibro flareup, which is bad enough, but i’ve got some new issues as well and they’re sapping what little energy i have to cope. I’ve been handling it the way my therapist has encouraged me to, by tuning in to my body and listening to what it’s telling me: i’m hungry feed me, i’m aching rest me, i’m upset soothe me… It’s that last one that i struggle so hard with, though. I got through this last crisis and returned to my schedule, not pushing too hard, but doing my best. If i was too tired, i might skip my nighttime skincare, and i only brushed my teeth perfunctorily, rather than my full 2 minutes, because it was making me retch and triggering me. When sexual activity came up, my body went completely numb, and i heard and honoured the NO.

These are good things and i’m proud to be accomplishing them, but my physical issues are getting so big i’m having trouble hanging on to even this amount of progress. I arranged to see the doctors i need to, but i’ve a week left to wait, and i don’t know where i’m going to find what i need to hang on until then.

Last night i was short-tempered and weepy, and today i hit a wall. I’m panicking about the wait. I’m worried that i can’t hold my system together and function properly until i see my therapist and my doctors. My pain level is too high, and my compulsion to take off and walk is almost too strong to resist. I don’t want to do this anymore.

I’m trying to listen to my body, but i don’t know how. My body terrifies me, and today i’m not sure if i can bear what it wants to share with me. I’m feeling sorry for myself, i know, but goddamnit why do i have to have the mental AND the physical? Haven’t i been through enough?
I feel young and small and i’m stomping around in my head with balled up, chubby little fists, doing that pre-Kindergarten angry cry.
I feel angsty and awkward and my delicate, teenage heart cries crimson tears.
I feel emptiness gnawing inside, a yawning pit where i lay at the bottom and am slowly consumed by the ache of fear.
Any desire or inspiration i have to deal with all the brain stuff, is being steamrolled by all this motherchristing pain. It’s taken 3 1/2hrs to get this much bashed out, and my head is thumping so hard it feels like my skull might pop off.

There is something, though. Writing this has made me calmer. I had to settle down enough to gather together a few words that made sense. This isn’t dissociation either, which is what i’ve been trying to avoid. When things are this tumultuous in my thinking, and then the physical piles on, the temptation to hide in the insensate is strong. It beckons me with the safety of nothingness.

I want to stay present, so i practise mindfulness, which, lemme tell ya, ain’t a helluva lotta fun right now. There’s a whispering behind a door inside me, and it’s practically swelling in its frame with its desire to open for me. I can open that door, go through and disappear for a while. It’s not restful, because the rest of me is still conscious, and my Bits N’ Pieces use up more energy than i do. It’s not safe, because a number of them can, and ohmygod have, gotten me into some dangerous situations.

Behind that door lies nothing.

I step into a void where i stop existing, only to step back, more tired, and often with some kind of mess to clean up. Damaged relationships, sometimes property (although not for a loooong time), almost always my body. Then comes the shame and anxiety, which must be handled carefully. If i’m not careful i can push myself into another hard switch. If i don’t consciously deal with the feelings at all, a switch is likely. Switching is not what i want. I love my people and i’m grateful for their care and protection, but i’m ready, willing, and mostly able to take the reins and drive this wagon full time.

I suspect this is what the next few months are going to look like:

I can do this. It’s gonna be fine.

OMGWTFICANTDOTHETHINGBBQ!!!!

It’s okay. I can do the thing.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

**********

I held onto this over the weekend, because i wanted to make sure that posting it was what i wanted to do. I know it’s not much of anything, because i’m scattered, enough so that, i think, it’s obvious i’m not quite all here. I’ve lost my voice. Whatever it is that identifies my writing as mine has slipped a little. I’m unsettled; rudderless. I’m anxious AF.

I want to edit/rewrite/punchup the entire thing, but i think that’s the wrong way to go. Reading my other stuff and reading this, may give you some insight. This is rambly, it’s trying to say something, but it doesn’t get there. It lacks cohesion.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but i am also currently lacking cohesion.
I’m scattered, and not quite all here.

I know i’m going to get through this and be better when it’s done. I also know there will be times when i’ll doubt that and be afraid i’m going to fail. I know that sometimes the pain and fear will be so intense that i’ll want to stop.
I have learned from being in the weeds many times before, that it will be okay. I will be okay. I lived through the actual experiences, anything after that is at least bearable.

It’s like when i used to smoke marijuana and hashish. Over the years i became more and more paranoid, but i could always handle it, because i knew, based on experience, that the high would end, and the feelings of paranoia were drug-induced.

So, with that in mind i’m going to post this meandering piece of weirdness, because i think it helps illustrate how my brain works. I think it could be a bridge between moments of clarity. How do i get from panic to peace? My brain isn’t always full of pithy observations and poetic imagery. Heh. Sometimes it’s on the mouthbreather setting. I’m fumbling around in here, trying to find meaning, trying to find something solid to stand on…

I’m not having much luck folks, but i’m not overly concerned at this precise moment. I think that writing has been instrumental in getting me from where i was when i first began writing this around 60hrs ago, to here, just about to smack that “publish” button.

This is part of my process. I recognise this place; i’ve been here many times before.
I can do this.

Pithiness will follow.

Image: Convergence, Jackson Pollack

Hush Little Baby

Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart

Never to part, baby of mine

~ Baby of Mine, Dumbo(1941)

 

I mentioned a while back that i’m not good at self-soothing. It’s not a mystery why. A baby needs physical touch and affection in order to connect with the world outside of itself. Touch is also part of what teaches them they are individuals, once they begin to see themselves as separate from their primary caregiver.

What do we do with babies when they cry? We soothe them of course, primarily with touch. What might happen then, when a baby is assaulted? I’ll tell you what happened in my case — disconnection. My brain was unable to process what was happening, so it severed the connections between thought, emotion, and sensation. I had some traumatic experiences that made no sense without coming to terrible and devastating conclusions that i lacked any sophistication to reach. I was constantly in danger from the person i depended on to meet my most basic needs: water, food, shelter. I disconnected so often and for so long, that some of my thoughts, my emotions, and my sensations, began developing their own rudimentary personalities.

I made parts that were frozen and felt no pain. I made parts that ate the anger and kept it hidden. And i made parts that aligned themselves with my abusers; those that believed what was happening was normal, some that knew i was a bad girl and deserved punishment, and others that believed my mother was wonderful, and everything she did, by association. Then, when i got older, i began making parts to function in the world around me: parts that performed more normally for grandparents, playmates, teachers, caregivers, and always, parts for my ever-widening circle of abuse.

What happened when i had an unmet need, was my brain would provide a part that could cope. For instance, if i wasn’t being fed, i had a part my mother had taught to panhandle and shoplift for her, so i might use that part if i was alone in the house or could otherwise get away. When i was being abused there were any number of parts, depending on what type of abuse, and who was doling it out. Outside of the home and other abusers, i still felt a great deal of fear and anxiety. I was trying to fit in but i felt separate; i wanted love, acceptance, help… But it only ever came in rare, and small amounts.

Over time, my brain behaved like a well-oiled machine, and the end result was my feelings were never attended to in the way a child needs most — by soothing and care.

This has everything to do with my toilet-epiphany to which i referred in my last post.
I’ll expound on that in the next couple of days, but i’m ending this one here.
I’m trying to keep my posts a bit shorter for the time being, so that i might have the energy to write through what’s currently happening, to take the time and care i require to heal from recent days, and prepare for those to come.

Thank you for being here, it helps.
Take care the best you can, and i will, too.

Love and Peace to All,
~H~

La Vie Dramatique

I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more
~ C. S. Lewis

My relationship with pain is as interesting as anyone’s, i guess. Maybe a bit more complicated?

I haven’t been in this much pain in a long while. I said it yesterday and i’ll say it again – it’s because i have to bear it myself. One reason why i splintered into smaller pieces was to cope with pain. It was to keep my thinking separate from my physical and emotional experiences of such. When i first split, i lacked the sophistication required to process what was happening to me. Hell, i’m not sure i can even now, but that’s where i endeavour to go and what i intend to find out.
I will go to the place where i feel what i felt, armed with what i know. I will attempt to have the experience of both of these things at the same time, in hopes of bringing more healing to my entire system, and more functionality to me, the primary face holder.

So this is an opportunity to prepare for it. And a sign that it’s already begun.

***** A Brief Aside *****

Listen, i know how dramatic i am right now. All things considered, i think i’m doing fairly well with regards to self-awareness, staying present, and being mindful.
I know myself, and making things all soap opera helps me deal. I was raised to downplay, deny, and forget anything bad that happened to me. Even minor stuff was met with admonitions that i was making a mountain out of a molehill and crying crocodile tears. Oh, and the ubiquitous, “You think YOU have it bad? Well… ”

Sharing my story like a tele novella is a personal acknowledgment that what i went through was, in fact, horrific. And perhaps more importantly, it’s standing up to those who silenced me and would still if they could.
I also think that, if my upbringing had been even a little bit better, i’d have made my living as an artist of some kind. I was heading down that road in spite of all the crap thrown at me, including my mother’s active sabotage. So it’s kinda who i am anyway. (I chose my blog name for reasons, cantcha see?)

If i can put a few poetic flourishes on this material, if i can turn it into art, i can live with what happened to me.
If these weird, quirky, tragic, and yes, histrionic little word pieces can enlighten, enrich, or dare i hope, assist, other humans in their own quests for health and happiness?
Then maybe i can do more of living than the surviving it part.

**********

I created Bits N’ Pieces to cope with trauma, and once i knew i’d done so, i quickly learned that dissociation could be helpful, useful, and occasionally preferable.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1995. Finding community to help me learn to live with it, showed me some who suffered so terribly they were bedridden, some dependent on pain medication, some driven to the deepest depths of depression. While i knew i was in a great deal of pain, i observed this from a distance. When i began working with multiplicity as the diagnosis for the way my brain works, i realised that i’d been dissociating from the pain.
Which was just peachy as far as i was concerned.
I always knew i had a high pain tolerance, but now i knew why.

I learned that, like most ailments, the fibro was exacerbated by stress. Fear and anxiety caused a noticeable uptick in pain and sleeplessness, but i think i simply adjusted my level of dissociation to handle it.
I dialed it up a notch or 2.

I am not doing that right now.

DJ-who-sounds-like-a-car-salesman: Hey Listeners, don’t touch that dial! We have more fatigue and achiness comin’ up after this brief message from our sponsor.

Car-salesman-who-sounds-like-a-DJ: Looking to get an upgrade? Drive off our lot in style with one of our luxury sedans!

I could get approved, but i couldn’t keep up with the payments. I may need to take a leave of absence from work, so i’ve gotta drive this one until the wheels fall off. Heh.

What i mean is, i’ve got to feel this physical pain because i’ve got to feel the psychic pain that’s coming, and it’s very possible it could take me out of life for a while. I’m not a danger to myself, i have no urges to harm nor any ideations. I just have a limited amount of energy and i may need it all.

So today i can barely move. The bone-grinding ache has crept into my wrists, my hands, up into my face, and this afternoon it moved into my lower back and the front of my thighs. My headache throbs incessantly. I want to sleep, but the anxiety, the head and body aches, plus the UTI, have all kept me from getting more than a couple of hours at a time. And there is no sleep without dreams, dreams where the pain always finds me and although i’m lucid, i don’t wake myself because, Why bother? I stay in the dream and i clean other people’s messes and i care for other people’s children. Various family members pop in and out, looking at me with contempt and condemnation and i’m drowning in shame and embarrassment. My head feels like it’s cracking open and my whole body throbs and my waterworks are freezing.

Maybe emerg again tonight, and more therapy fun tomorrow.

Whee?
(There’s a pun there.)

Purgatory

Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become
the wounded person,
My heart turns livid upon me as i lean on a cane and observe.
~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I’ve wasted time and energy being angry at the wrong things. It wasn’t safe to be angry at the right things, and once it was, i no longer remembered why i was so angry.

I’d colour a picture, and if i made even the tiniest titch outside of that thick, black line, i’d rip out the page, crumple it into a ball and throw it out. If i was almost finished when i did it, i could get so mad that i’d scribble all over it first – grinding the coloured wax into the paper and ripping through to the pages underneath, pressing so hard my fingers were dimpled and hot, stained with the crayon that would inevitably break in two.

when it was born in me — that first what the fuck is this?
i was triplets
My heart, My guts, chubby hands holding My face
orbiting My brain like little Plutos

i hid it away and kept it safe; clever girl
little bits of me chipped off or
chiseled, floating away
My eyes filled with crocodile tears
My burning vulva
My precious 4yr old, looking in the mirror with her bottle of poison
caught and gathered in to my gravitational field
chunks and gobbets, slivers and strands, frozen
flesh and rocky bone
orbiting My mass and My might.

Last night i tried to sleep, but one dose of Cipro couldn’t buy it. I left my disco waterbed and wandered into the living room, wishing for a fire in the hearth, but settling for dogs and cat and blanket.
The fibro is fire enough for my Pomeranian companion to abandon my legs for the chair beside me – i’m a furnace of pain. The cat leaves due to bad vibes (i’m sure), and the Pit Bull sniffs concernedly at my arms and shoulders. I reach down and wrap my arms around her neck, smelling her skin as she nuzzles me. Who knew the nose-juice of a dog could be a balm?
My girl parts are numb, curled around my traitorous waterworks that feel like ice. The heavy throb underneath the mons, urging me to urinate, but i can’t. I know there’s nothing there, or at least not enough. Its slicing exit is such a trigger i talk to myself while i pee -babble, really- anything to keep me present. As much as it hurts and as easy as it would be to let someone else deal with this pain, i know that it is positively VITAL that i do not.

The gift of this pain is its/it’s preparing me for what’s to come. It is a proving ground.
Can i handle what’s coming? They watch and judge. We all want to know.
Can i bear the pain that’s in store?
Can i gather them to me and keep them?
Can they stop drifting around my periphery and finally come home?

This is why i’m so angry.

Sometimes — i don’t care what anyone says — sometimes, anger is my primary emotion. But most of the time it is as they say, a secondary one. My response to pain or the threat of pain is anger. I still do the fight, flight, or freeze thing, but i’m usually pissed about it.

I live in the land of the dead. My thoughts are not connected to my feelings or my sensations on some kind of level that i can’t yet explain. I’ve been climbing up and out on old bones, and i have the land of the living in my sights, but i’ve gotta go through Purgatory to get there. I’ve got to pick through the sea of hot flesh and refuse, find my bits and my pieces, and slap them back on my cold, naked skeleton. I’ll sew ’em, weld ’em, glue ’em, nail ’em – whatever is required.

It’s gonna hurt like a motherfucker. It’s gonna hurt in a way i’ve never been hurt before.

And none of this is my doing. None of this is my fault. But it is all -allofit- my responsibility. My duty to my system and myself.

I’m coming up on rage soon, i think. Because i’m fucking terrified.

That’s enough for today. I’m getting super-dramatic up in here, and i need to decompress and get a bit of distance. I’m hoping by tonight this cursed (pronounce this CURSE-ed for full effect) UTI will have eased enough that i can get a bit of sleep, which may soften the fibro some.

And of that second kingdom will I sing
Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself,
And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy.
~ Dante Aleghieri, Purgatorio

Y’all hang in there. I promise i will, too.

~H~

Image: NASA

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?)

 

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)

 

Fear Is The Mind Killer

Content Warning: This piece contains references to integration, which may be triggering for some.

When routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
When resentment rides high
And emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways
Taking different roads

Love, love will tear us apart again
~Love Will Tear Us Apart, Evelyn Evelyn

This next part must come now, or it won’t. I’m committed to talking about my multiplicity – a lot here, maybe sometimes a little outside the protective bubble of the etherosphere where i dwell. (Did you see what i did there? I like it. Also, my use of qualifiers seems to be directly proportional to my difficulty with the subject matter. I’ll try to edit as many out as i can before i post, heh.)
In my prior entry, i wrote about how i hadn’t been paying enough attention to the people that live in my brain, and how once i did, i recognised that something was terribly wrong.

A little background before i get into what’s happened:

There are some multiples for whom success is integration, and others for whom that isn’t even on the table as a possibility. I fall into the latter camp. It felt, on a visceral level, like that would be akin to murdering the people who’d saved my life. I set about carving out a functional and satisfying life for all of us, which was no small task, and in fact took me nearly a decade to achieve. My system works from the agreement amongst us that i am the head, and i am in charge. There’s really no other way for this to work, because i have an intellectual understanding that my people aren’t actually real – they were created by me in order to help me survive my upbringing.

You may well ask, If you know they aren’t real, then how would integration be murder?
I’m not quite sure if i have a reasonable answer, but what i can say is that it’s the way i’ve learned to live with how my brain works. This involves a constant tinkering to find a workable balance between thoughts and feelings, between imagination and reality, and on finding a way to live in and be a part of the world as much as possible, while still honouring and protecting the parts of me that are broken and delicate and deserve to be shielded from any more pain or ugliness. In living my life as if they are real – i’m healing myself.

Multiples are no different from anyone else in that we must all find or create our own path, no one’s journey through life is exactly like anyone else’s. I’ve sought healing and happiness through examining what happened to me and learning as much as i can about how i coped, and what that might say about me as a person (and what it might not). I’ve been intensely self-focused for nearly 20yrs now, and as with most of us who get exceptional at anything, i’d been managing my people well for enough time that i’d become complacent.

When i finally turned my eyes and ears inward, i discovered that some of my people were missing. I asked after them and was mostly met with stony silence. A couple of them yelled things at me, but it was name calling, not information. Those that i know would help me were being hidden from me, and i had to listen to cursing and condemnation before any cooperation was going to happen. I’m not going to describe what happened in any more detail than that, as it’s private and it’s weird, and frankly i’m not sure i can paint a word picture that would make enough sense to either of us for me to bother.

They were gone, and no one wanted to talk about it.
When i think things, as a multiple, it is as if i’m talking to other people (sometimes at, because no one is listening, heh). Usually there’s at least one response, and occasionally it’s many. There can also be other conversations already happening, or what i “say” can spur some side conversation, in other words 2 or more of my people want to talk to each other about what i just said. There’s often murmurs that follow, where i can catch a snippet or 2, but it’s more like a sussuration unless i consciously focus on it. This time, i’m wondering where a few of my people are, i’m thinking that i don’t remember hearing from them recently, and it happens just like BOOM! in a moment:

I know they’re gone.
I’m struck by the terrible, thick, unnatural (as in NEVER happens) silence.
I’m at once overwhelmed by their feelings of fear, and my legs are watery and my head is floaty and i’m hit with a violent wave of nausea.

I don’t know how long i sat there, but i know i must have been acting weird, because suddenly i was aware that my dogs were at me, one was pawing my face, and the other was sitting at my feet, staring directly at me, which isn’t like her. At this point, i get up and go back about my day. This is the beginning of a couple of weeks spent in a highly dissociative state. I sort of forget about what happened, but i’m also aware of it, like a dark figure, always present at the edge of my peripheral vision. I’m easily startled at the best of times, but now i’m jumping out of my skin fairly regularly. And i’m losing time, nearly every day.

I was able to keep to my regular schedule, which is no small point of pride, for me. Yet i was filled with foreboding, and felt menaced by something or someone, although i knew that it was just the way my brain was manifesting what was going on in my system. I tried to cope by becoming more functional, i exercised more and was more careful with my diet, and i tackled more chores around the house. The results of that were all good, except it didn’t help with my inner turmoil much, and i knew that if i didn’t deal with what had happened soon, i’d find myself in some manufactured chaos.

One night i got royally pissed off at something, which got the ball rolling, or rather it got my tongue wagging. I told my husband that i thought some of my Bits N’ Pieces were gone. And then i think i cried for a long time.

You cry out in your sleep
All my failings exposed
There’s a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold
Just that something so good
Just can’t function no more

Love, love will tear us apart again
END OF PART TWO

Sighs and Fuuuus and Triggers, Oh My!

Likely to be somewhat histrionic, and meander-y as fuck.
Oh yeah, and profane.

I am gonna talk about my multiplicity.
It is not fun or cool or romantic or even interesting to me anymore. Mostly it just is what it is, but there are times -like the last 2 1/2mos- when it sucks the sewage out of your drinking water.

Integration was never an option for me. Hell, i can’t usually even remember the word. It’s anathema to me and it’s death to them.
I’m not having any trouble remembering it lately, though. No fucking trouble at all.

Around 4yrs or so ago, my husband had had enough. It had been years of chaos, and in and out of The Bin and regular interaction with the police. Disappearing for hours and even days at a time, with neither of us having much if any idea at all as to what i’d been up to. He was the breadwinner and the only decent parent. And then he had more children than just our sons, to boot.

What happened is private, but when it happened i just knew he was done. He absolutely couldn’t take any more, and neither could our marriage. I was both scared and sorry to see him at the end of his patience, but in a way grateful, as it was the impetus i needed to begin the process of taking control of my brain and the way it works.

With the help of my counsellor, i’d been able to set up safe spaces where my people could hide/live/sleep/whatever. I now have a castle on a large property with some cabins and Hobbity-type dwellings for those who don’t mix well with others. In the castle is a great room with a massive, round table, and that is where we began negotiations.
There were alliances struck and allies made and factions with whom we reached at least, a detente.
Who wants to talk?
Who hates talking but still wants to be heard? Do you want to write, or would you prefer someone here to speak for you?
Who absolutely requires face time, and who wants to never be in the face again if they can at all avoid it?

It took a good, solid year of summiting to come up with a manifesto and a peace treaty that we’d all willingly sign up with and follow. The hardest part was for them to allow me time and space to prove i could be trusted and relied upon to be the head of this family: to provide, to guide, to protect, to serve, and also to punish or otherwise mete out consequences.
We revisited when required, and my position has not been questioned as my record is fucking exemplary.
But there is a thing going on in my life that has taken a great deal out of me. I’ve referenced it before, but it’s still personal and i’ll not share any details. Let it be sufficient to know that it has grown heavier and more burdensome over the years, and as i became healthier and more functional, it became less tolerable.

Enter my Bits N’ Pieces.

They’re just trying to help, of course. That’s all they’ve ever done. But as i grow and mature, their ways become less acceptable. I’m more capable and so the way they cope sometimes is not merely not okay – it’s causing damage. Not to anyone else yet, but it is hurtful to me. I’m stressed out, i’m dealing with feelings of failure, and fear of falling back into the kind of chaos that ruled most of my last 10+yrs.

I will not go back there. I refuse to live like that again.
I sat there at that round table. The head of it and yet not. THE face amongst a sea of many. Giving everyone a voice, a say, a place, because that is, unquestionably, the right thing to do.
Yet i find myself in a position of leadership over people that are not quite people. Most are not fully formed; some are only an emotion or a particular point in time or event, but every single one worthy of whatever they define as existence/life. However, i’m beginning to see stitches loosening and boundaries softening and this cannot happen. I need to be parent/boss/sovereign. Whatever.

Perhaps a bit histrionic, yes, but it’s only because you don’t live in my brain. You probably don’t share thought-space with other people who saved your life since before you could speak. People who constantly fill your brain with their conversation, whether talking to you, or to themselves, or to each other. Who make your life incredibly difficult but they made your life POSSIBLE. Over and over and so many times over. So many times that i feel like the shittiest person ever to be saying to them now, “You’ve gotta stop the shenanigans, or i’m gonna have to talk to her about my options as far as integration.”

The word that i can now remember because it’s become an option.
This is a shit of a day and i fucking hate me right now.
Some of them do, too.
Blah. Blargh. Pfft. Fuuuuuuuu,

~H~

Sledgehammer, Part Two


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

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

It was a start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will never, EVER stop trying.

END, PART TWO