Sledgehammer, Part Two


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

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

It was a start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will never, EVER stop trying.

END, PART TWO

Where Metaphors Collide

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

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

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

<insertherwarmsmileandwinkhere>

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

<insertmyresignedsighhere>

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

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

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

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

(Oops. Metaphor again. Sorry.)

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

Holy motherfuckingfucketyfuck.

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

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

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

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

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

Love and Peace,
Always,
~H~

To Pay Or Not To Pay

“No price is too high for the privilege of owning oneself.”
~Rudyard Kipling

I may not be currently reaching/helping anyone else out there, but as i currently have no safe relationship in my life with whom to discuss my current situation (totally on me, that), i’m gonna be accountable here. I’ll speak to what i can, and try not to be frustratingly vague. I’ll be sharing what matters, i don’t think the details are that important, and the people involved in what i’m going through very much are.

I’ve been blamed for a lot of things that weren’t my fault. This is not going to be a poor-me post, i’m just saying a true thing. I was the reason for my mother’s pain and failure, and the receptacle into which she poured all her resentment and anger. She eventually added other people to our family and that helped spread it around a bit, but for around 12yrs i got it all. And even after more children were added, she still tended to focus the bulk of her rage and frustration on the oldest child. I know that the next oldest, although always abused, experienced it more frequently and intensely when i left home.

The abuse was always my fault. It was my job to accept responsibility for anything and everything that went wrong, and i was a very obedient girl. I wanted to please. I wanted love. I was well into my 20s before i realised that i unconciously took the blame for everything that went wrong around me. It was a reflex that required no thought, really.

Once i started dealing with my childhood issues there came a number of years where i absolutely could not let anything go. And i sure didn’t take proper responsibility where i should have, either. That pendulum swung hard to the other side, and all i knew was that YOU had done something wrong and you’d better admit it and be sorry. Like NOW.

Okay, well i guess i should stipulate that i only exercised this hard stand in my primary relationship. My husband was the only person i trusted. My trust wasn’t always an awesome thing to have, i can assure you. And the issues i had with him were so minor compared to what he had to deal with where i was concerned. I won’t sugarcoat shit and offer them as Raisinettes.
But i still took a lot of shit from other people in my life. Other people were still walking all over me, blaming me for things were not my fault. Or weren’t entirely my fault. Dumping their burdens on me to carry because they always had.

I’d like to tell you that i learned to stand up to them and say NO.
The truth is i just ditched them or let them go.

And then i started making my way back to middle ground – at least with my husband.
I have learned to take a hard, unblinking look at my own behaviour as well as his, and whatever blame is mine i suck it up and admit it. I accept responsibility and make amends.

The problems i’ve had in my primary relationship have been almost exclusively my fault, or at least they’ve been so big that they were all that we had the energy and time to deal with.
Now, we’ve had a couple of years of relative calm.
No hospitals. No police. No hitchhiking into the city and disappearing for a day or more. No violent switching. No running out to the highway and trying to throw myself in front of a semi. No overspending. No days where i can’t get out of bed.
Only a couple of screaming tirades. A couple of angry walks. That’s it.

My problems now centre around socialisation. Through interactions with local folks i realised i sucked at it. It was all unconscious, reflexive, unhealthy behaviours that were all developed under duress and a need to survive – literally. I tried very hard and repeatedly, to quit acting like my life was on the line and i would die if i wasn’t liked by everyone all the time.
I haven’t been able to manage it.
So i did what i did with the close family and friends in my life. Well kinda. I haven’t ditched them exactly, because most of them were really decent people. They didn’t do anything to me except try to be my friend.

Which is admirable and i appreciate it – more than i’ve been able to say to any of them.
Cuz H don’t go out no mo’.
I’m afraid i’ll never be able to take what i’ve learned into any relationships other than my immediate family. It’s not to say that i won’t ever try again. I just don’t think i can take another failed friendship right now.

Besides, i’ve got all i can handle with this crisis-that-shall-not-be-named going on in my life. Which brings me back around to the start of this post.
If this all goes for shit i know i’ll be blamed. And it won’t be my fault. But i can’t be the kind of person i want to be AND stand up for myself. I will have to let people think what they want to think. Even people whose opinion of me really matters.

It’s really not fair, but it’s the right thing.
The price of being understood wouldn’t be paid by me, and that’s a price too high to pay.

Love and Peace to Any and All,

~H~
P.S. I hope i didn’t say “shit” too much for you. I go through phases with cursing – sometimes i do it a little, and sometimes a LOT. In my writing and speaking life. Sometimes a curse word really is the best word to use for me. Hey, i’ve got some decent vocabulary i could use, but sometimes nothing fits but the “bad” word. I’ve haven’t gone through a crisis this big since i got well (okay better), and i’m scared and panicky and stressed and anxious and, well, if you don’t care for profane language i’m seriously fucking sorry. Heh.

Wednesday’s Child Needs Her Some Saturday

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
~ Mother Goose

 

Since Wednesday, i’ve been nearly overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment. It happens whenever i become highly dissociative. It’s a loss of control. It’s involuntary vulnerability. It’s utter failure. I want to hermit in my Little Crooked House for good. I’m dreading seeing my family again.

This is not healthy, nor is it functional. This bit of family is extremely important to me. To not see them again would be immeasurably worse. Therefore, i must find a way through this bit of woe. I am certain that i will dissociate again. I’m actively working on ways to minimise the damage that can be caused when that happens, and the aftermath of Wednesday seems so far to be evidence that i’m having some success. What needs some more work are my thoughts and feelings following those times.

So to that end, i shall list the reasons i feel guilt, shame and embarrassment:

  • loss of control;
  • being seen while out of control;
  • doing things that are uncharacteristic;
  • doing things that reflect poorly upon my character;
  • damaging relationships/property;
  • reliance on others for information.

 

There’s probably more, but those are what’s coming to mind. (I can’t think on one thing for too long or i risk getting stuck in it and losing focus and discernment.)

 

I was very depressed upon waking this morning. The weight of it all was so heavy. I was tired and lethargic and my dreams had drained me of most of my reserve energy. I got up to pee and went back to bed. Sometimes i hide in my dreams -even the vexing ones- because at least it’s not here and now. The thing is though, i seem to’ve come too far along in my personal growth to do that for very long. Oh yay. So i’m laying there filled with anxiety because i know i can’t do this forever and i know it doesn’t help and i know i’ve gotta face the feelings and face my family and i know. I just know, now. I know every time i’m not the person i want to be, every time i do something i’d have preferred not to do, is now a proving ground. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow and be/do better next time. (The previous sentence was brought to you by: Gobs of Sarcasm. Are you running low on witty contempt? Well we’ve got GOBS!)

So yeah, i got up. I already knew i needed to write about it, and i had a pretty good idea what i was dealing with that needed some reexamination by way of reminder, coupled with a good, hard tweak.

I cannot control what other people think or feel about me. And not only do i really hate that, but it scares the shit outta me.

 

I spent the majority of my life knowing something was different/wrong/broken about me, but not exactly what it was. I worked very hard and for a long time, to try and figure it out. Once i did, i wanted to go back to every person that had ever disliked or just misunderstood me and explain why they were wrong to do so. Heh. I set about putting people right and fixing my life. And it worked really well. (GOBS!)

 

Okay, what really happened was, people thought i was weirder than they did before. They overwhelmingly did not care and continued to dislike me, and more often than not – they didn’t believe me. I spent a few years skipping around singing, “Neener  neener, you were wrong because i was sick and it wasn’t my fault!” /tralala

I didn’t even give most of them any details. I just told them that my childhood had made my brain sick and that was sometimes why i acted the way i did and sometimes did weird/crappy stuff. And i was generally just rejected all over again. This particular, very important member of my family was one of them.

So there, that’s why i’m in this awful place. I lost control in front of someone who matters a great deal to me. A person who rejected both me and my diagnoses at one time, and although they now no longer reject me, that other subject hasn’t come up yet. I wanted to make it a non-issue by keeping it out of our interactions, but i wasn’t able to on Wednesday. They assure me that everything’s fine, but i feel very not-fine. What do i do?

 

This is why i dragged my ass outta bed – because i know exactly what to do.

I haven’t done all this work for all these years for nothing.

 

When i didn’t get the results that i’d expected from telling people i had REASONS, i wondered why not. I pondered for a long time, and as i continued to work on myself, gathering information, doing the work my therapist told me to, learning about who i am and what i want and what i think… I figured out why, or at least i came to a way of looking at it that gave me peace and allowed me to accept reality and let it be:

  • what people think about me is none of my business;
  • i can’t control what people say about me when i’m not around;
  • i can’t convince anyone of anything without their cooperation;
  • being disliked won’t kill me (it hasn’t so far);
  • being misunderstood won’t kill me (see above);
  • the truth is the truth, regardless of whether or not it’s believed;
  • belief is subjective;
  • i don’t owe anyone an explanation, unless i’ve done harm;
  • it’s not always about me;
  • awareness and respect of my personal boundaries is paramount to healthy interactions with others.

 

I don’t know if my family member believes me. I don’t know if they understand me. What i do know is that, based on results, they accept me and want me in their life. And i veryveryvery much want that, too. I must let it go and be what it is. They’re allowed to think and feel what they will, and it’s only my business inasmuch as they care to share. There may be fallout in the relationship as a result of what happened, and if i want to maintain this relationship, i must handle it within the parameters as they’ve been defined.

This guilt, shame, and embarrassment, while valid, are secondary to what is really going on – and that is fear of rejection. The absolute core issue of my life. I must keep this in mind, and recognise that it has a hair trigger. The intensity of my reaction is in alignment with this, but out of proportion to the event. I will check myself accordingly, and i will draw peace and calm from knowing this. I will acquire confidence, respect, and esteem for myself from figuring this out. I’ll be stronger and more functional next time.

I’m looking forward to being bonny and blithe tomorrow.

 

*** Life as me: It’s as simple as that. ***

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

 

 

Just Blather, That’s All

So Wednesday sucked. Really a lot. And my brain did what it does in order to cope. There was fallout. What i do now, rather than pretend like it never happened, is examine it with a critical (not unkind) eye, learn what i can from it, tweak my life where necessary, and move on. What went wrong was due to not managing triggers well enough to avoid certain coping mechanisms that tend to do more harm than good in my current life.

 

Let’s talk about triggers. I know it’s a somewhat current topic, but i’m not gonna get into the politics of it. Psychpedia says “a trigger in psychology is a stimulus such as a smell, sound, or sight that triggers feelings of trauma.” I was hit hard by 2 intense triggers at once, and i lost my grip on things. First, i had a doctor’s appointment. These are always difficult for me, but pap smears are by far the hardest. Second, i spend the day with family when i have something going on in the city, seeing as i live out of town and i no longer drive. My family has recently moved to a new home, and it’s in an older area of the city, where i endured some of the earliest and most insidious sexual abuse of my childhood.

 

I failed to anticipate the intensity of my reaction and i did NOT adequately prepare for the day. I was fully dissociated before i even got to my family’s home. Fortunately, i found papers that give me a general idea of how my appointment went. My doctor is very involved in all aspects of my health, so i can call if i need more information. My family realised i wasn’t quite myself, and they understand. Once i had some idea that i was struggling, i took steps to minimise any interaction i had with the young people in the house.

 

I’m fairly upset that they saw me in that state, and so right now my inclination is to hide. I don’t think i’ll be going anywhere for the next few days. I’m trying to manage the feelings of guilt and shame, and i know from experience that adding people to the mix will almost certainly cause an anxiety attack.  Realising i was there-but-not-there is sort of like coming home from your normal work  day, catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, and seeing yourself naked. You forgot to put on any clothes, and everyone you interacted with that day has now seen you buck-ass nekkid. They’ve now seen private bits of you that you’d never have shown them otherwise. I feel victimised all over again, but it’s neither their fault, nor mine.

 

It can be tough to work through.

 

I’ll be better prepared next time. Even this time was better than the last time. As soon as i got enough clarity, i took control of the situation as best i could. I left the home and waited for my husband to come and pick me up at a neutral location. Well, it was a playground that my mother had used as a drop-off when i was very young, but it was preferable to sliding around in a dissociative state in front of my family. I even had the presence of mind to leave my phone and my money at the house. That may sound counterintuitive, but it’s not. I’ve been known to disappear for days when i have the means, and although having nothing but the clothes on my back hasn’t always stopped me, i’m functional enough now that i figured it would be at least somewhat inhibitive.

 

This probably doesn’t help anyone else out there much, but i committed to writing more, and this is what’s coming out. My thoughts are still pretty scrambled, and that, coupled with this feeling of acute shame and embarrassment, is making it difficult to tie it all up in some grand pronouncement of LESSON LEARNED: Achievement Unlocked!

 

So next time i’m in that neighbourhood, i won’t act like it’s fine. It’s not fine. That time in my life was ugly and awful. I will have a conversation with myself about how it’s okay to feel whatever, but it’s not okay to do whatever. I can handle the feelings, the thoughts, the flashes of memory… I don’t need to be protected or shielded anymore. I got this. I can be in the moment feeling the feeling and thinking the thought and i’m not gonna die. I don’t even have to do anything particularly crazy. Heh.

 

I’m gonna go have a nap with Floofy McFlooferkins. I’m exhausted. Just trying to get something written that makes any sense (it occurs to me that this still may not, despite my best efforts) is like a mental treasure hunt through an obstacle course. I have to sift through a lot of chatter and dodge a lot of thoughts that i can get stuck in like quicksand. The best remedy is sleep and puppy shnuggles.

 

 

 

Thanks For Reading,

Love and Peace,

~H~

Reanimator

As i work towards being healthier and more functional, one of the most important things i can do, i think, is ask a lot of questions. Of myself. Hard ones.

It’s a bit tricky, because navel-gazing isn’t a good place for me. I can get obsessed, or mired in circular thinking rather easily. I need to ask the hard questions, but answer them relatively quickly, without dwelling on them. It’s not as difficult as i’d worried it might be. I’ve given most of these questions significant thought before, but either stuffed them away in some nook of my brain because i couldn’t deal with it, or just simply been unable/unwilling to implement whatever conclusions i’d come to. Simply put, most of the answers are in there, and fairly accessible just by asking the questions.

By asking and answering some of those harder ones, i’ve been able to set my feet upon a path, and plod in a generally forward direction. I know there are things about my brain that work differently than most people, and for the purposes of being more relatable i refer to them as mental illnesses. I’ve asked why i am this way and come to some kind of conclusion that, at least for now, satisfies me to the point where i can accept it and move on. I’ve asked myself what i’d like to change about myself and my life, and acknowledged what i need to do to get there. The questions don’t stop there, but the biggest, most serious ones regarding what made me this way are mostly behind me (probably). Hopefully. Maybe? Okay, we’ll go with “for now”.

 

As someone who’s spent a significant part of my life in deep contemplation, i suppose i’ve developed a sort of slapdash personal philosophy, at least with respect to the broader definition of my own existence. I see my life as a tightrope walk. Or a balance beam. Or standing in the centre of a teeter totter, with one foot on either side. Yeah, i think i’m that sort of person. I’m looking for balance. Not so much for stasis, because boring, but i’m on a swing and if it goes too high i fall off and if i don’t pump my legs i’ll eventually stop, and either of those is death. That extends to my worldview, but only in the broadest and most non-theistic sense. I see that there are a chain of events set off by every action we take, whether conscious or unconscious, and that which happens as a result are natural consequences. I do what i do, and life responds in return, and while i see life around me as somewhat random and coincidental, i see evidence every day that convinces me that my choices play an important part in who i am and how i live, thus persuading me of the benefit of living a more conscious life. I am compelled to continue.

Yes, Life happens. Every day, all day. With me and without me. But insofar as i am conscious and aware, i have autonomy in how i respond to it. As someone born into a mental cage inside an emotional prison – this is sweet freedom. I’m deeply comforted by the unconsciousness of Life’s non-response to my presence, which is a balm to the constant and strident histrionics of humans responding both to me and around me. And while i love humans very much, i’m loathe to be associated with most of them.

Each time depression cycles back around it’s like dying. Things slow and darken and everything is tiring and painful. People exacerbate the condition, making me want to skip to the inevitable conclusion and save myself the suffering. So i withdraw to a place where the feelings are more manageable. My Fortress of (relative) Solitude.

It’s difficult with this particular brain and heart to be amongst you for very long and remain conscious, intentional, and contribute positively to those around me. I know it will change as i move forward – i see continued improvement with every small foray i make into the big, bad world. I have much evidence to hope that one day it might be mostly natural, and even fluid. For now though, i’m fortunately able to live in my Little Crooked House with my moat of trees and grass and wagon wheels, and my dragon-dogs and fire breathing husband and son.

I ask questions, form hypotheses, and then go out and test them, gathering evidence to bring back to my lab, where i study the data and then do it all again. I’m working on a theory, but that paper is a long way from being written, and peer review still scares the  shit outta me.

 

I just combined the 2 prior images and came up with Princess Frankenstein. I like it.

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

 

Closing the Door On Excuses

This morning (05/30/16) while writing i think i came to understand (maybe the biggest) part of why i still felt desperately alone, even though i had found some understanding and approval and love in my life.

It’s because i wasn’t being myself. I mean, not fully. That was partly because i’m only now getting to know myself well, but also because i hid a lot of the bits i deemed unlikeable or unacceptable. So i kept myself under wraps. And when some of the odder stuff would leak out in drips and drabs i would be mortified, and either pull the hermit act, or avoid the people who’d seen me like that for as long as possible – forever being my preference.

Being as much myself as i’m able to be on a day-to-day basis has been as liberating as you might expect. With each little risk taken -each situation where i choose to act or react in the way i’m inclined to, rather than the way i think i should- i gain confidence and self-esteem in equal measure. Sometimes the reaction i get from others is what i’ve been trained to avoid. Maybe there’ll be an awkward silence, or uncomfortable laughter… It makes me pretty twitchy, but i’m slowly learning to ride it through. My priority is being genuine as often as possible. Those times often bear greater reward, because i made it through a social situation that was less than ideal, as myself… And here i am. Alive. It may have stung a bit, you know, if they weren’t pickin’ up what i was throwin’ down, but it didn’t end me. They didn’t slay me. I’m not left sittin’ in the gutter eatin’ worms, yum yum.

Another thing that requires some attention is the difficulty i had even writing the prior piece at all. I had to drag it out – force myself to write it. At first i thought it was a discipline problem, but since posting it, i have more insight.

I’m closing doors behind me and it’s scary.

I knew it was time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and set my feet to walkin’. It’s like i’d only just begun on my path when i got blindsided. Like i was on a little bike with training wheels, and the person that should have been behind me, watching with a mixture of fear and pride, instead got into their truck and ran me over. I got up and wandered around, dazed and in shock, but eventually my injuries became too much for me to continue. I sat there in the road for a long time, just nursing my wounds and resting. I may have even had a bit of a tantrum, where i threw myself in the ditch and rolled around in the mud and felt sorry for myself.

But i’m okay to resume the journey. I’ve been walking for a while now, but i haven’t gone far. How far do you think you’d get on your weekend hike in the mountains, if you kept looking behind you every couple of minutes? Yeah. So if i really want to put in some clicks (that’s kilometres, for you Luddites), i’ve gotta let go of the fear that i’m gonna get in another accident. The time between backward glances has gotten longer, and i’m not even nervously focused on the horizon. The path itself is lovely and interesting, and begs to be enjoyed.

Okay, enough analogy. (I do so love them, although i know i can go on a bit.)

(05/31/16) There’s more to it, this firm decision to move forward, and it’s not terribly flattering, but it is the truth. To control my mouth, and to take full responsibility for what comes out of it, involves letting go of anything that may be an excuse. At this point, there would be times when to blame my past or my mental illness for saying something hurtful, crass, or just generally shitty, would be an excuse. I now enjoy some decent control over myself and my words. I have more self-awareness and insight into why i am the way i am and have done the things i’ve done. I know where i am and where i’d like to go, in terms of the sort of person i want to be.

I’m now capable of more and must hold myself to a higher standard. It’s one of those areas where keen attention to balance is required of me, because i’m still mentally ill, and likely will always be so. But if i use my past and my resulting brokenness to excuse myself for something i could have done/handled better, that will keep me tied to an insidious disingenuousness that could sabotage all my hard work. I would be moving away from the human i want to be, and closer to that which i was raised to be – which is anathema to me.

It’s funny, really. When i was young i loved being sick. My mother would at least not bother me, and sometimes she was even kind – especially if it warranted a hospital visit, because then she got a lot of attention, too. Poor widowed wretch and her sick/injured child. (She wasn’t a widow of course, but that’s a story for another time, maybe.) I was hospitalised quite a bit too, and that was pure heaven. I loved being in the hospital so much. I was clean and regularly fed well; i got treats and presents and everyone was nice to me! I got good attention -and what’s more- i got sympathy.

I was waiting for someone to see my suffering and save me. Knowing this has only come with age and contemplation, naturally. Heh. But no one ever came, and it was up to me to save myself. I would tell schoolmates fantastic and terrible stories about my life, and when i would get caught or confronted over the obvious bullshittery, i’d wonder why i told so many lies. Obvious now, but not to a child, or even to a traumatised adult. I was searching for an explanation for why i wasn’t right, and nothing in my life was right, and i was sad and aching inside all the time.

Getting diagnosed as clinically cuckoo was almost a dream come true. That little broken girl inside me got all the validation and sympathy she’d so desperately craved. Over the years i’ve become more and more forthcoming about my mental illness, so i know people have cut me some slack here and there, when my behaviour has been less than exemplary. For example, when i’m manic i can be obnoxious and draining, both mentally and physically. And when i’m depressed, i can be alternately explosively angry or completely withdrawn and utterly unavailable. When i’m dissociative… Well, anything’s possible. When i’m experiencing clinical anxiety, it unsettles everyone around me.

I needed all that sympathy. I needed people to be horrified by my upbringing. And i really, really needed people to so kindly and generously put aside their reflex reactions to my various odd and unpleasant behaviours and say, “That’s okay, H. We know you’ve been through a lot and you’re broken inside.” That stuff was positively crucial to my healing. But i know the time has come for me to let the fallback position go. It’s time to know i’m dealing with mania and bite back the overshare. It’s time to recognise i’m depressed and get out in the world and do stuff anyway. It’s time to deal with my anxiety in healthier ways than drinking 3 doubles in an hour, or coming home and pulling out my eyebrows and eyelashes.

Sometimes things will still get away from me or otherwise be beyond my control. I want the people in relationship with me to be able to trust me. If my dysfunctional behaviours don’t improve and my accountability for my own actions doesn’t increase, then i’m not being who i want to be. Don’t get me wrong, everyone with mental illness has their own journey with their own obstacles. We all must set our own bars and your bar may be at a different level than my bar. If i’m capable of a higher level of function than you are, it does not make me better. I believe in a continuum (ie. your abuse may have been more severe, my mental illness may be more serious, etc.), but i don’t for a minute think it dictates worthiness. Pfft. I just know that if i’m well enough to pick up my pace on this path i’m walking, why would i suddenly want to do it with crutches? They would be an impediment to my progress.

I’m feeling good today. Started writing this last night and it made for a dream-filled (crappy) sleep, but as i finish it, i reckon my sleep tonight will be more restful. Whoever you are, thanks for reading, and i’m glad you’re here. Love and peace to you.