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~

Rubber, Meet Road

Hello,

I’m not doing very well today and i’m not sure what to say about that. There are terrible and private things going on in my life that i’ve no one to talk to about. I have a therapist, but money is very tight, and we can only afford for one person to be seeing her right now and that person is not me.

I have no close friendships and i’ve suspended my social media. I’m so dissociative right now that i don’t feel like i have enough self-control to be on there. Everything everyone says either frightens, angers, or hurts me. These things that i want someone to talk to about involve the only people i have to talk to…

I don’t know what to do. All i have is this little piece of cyberspace and i don’t know what inside me is currently fit to print.

I do NOT like crying and i can feel my throat tensing up. I’ve got that terrible, painful ache that lives in the space behind the bottom of my sternum. That ache that spreads behind my breastplate, reaching up to fill the gap between my shoulder blades. The headache i’ve had for weeks is now at full throb and my sinuses are swollen and painful. And there’s a piano on my chest playing anxious music that sounds like something from a 60s British horror film.

Okay, i just took an hour’s break from this.

I’ll confess that i’ve been so low that i let my personal hygeine slip last night and this morning. Hey, i wasn’t dirty or smelly okay? Just slow, heavy, tired… sad. But y’all can read other blog posts that refer to the importance of regularity and regimen in my life, and particularly in this area. Clean house, clean person. I have set these routines in place when i was in a better frame of mind, to help get me through the times when i wasn’t quite myself.

So i thought, “Well, that will be a positive thing i can put in my blog, which will be better than going full Eeyore.”

Never go full Eeyore.

So i got up and stripped off my pajamas that i’d been in all day, and i dragged my unwashed arse into the shower. After that i did my skincare and took proper care of my teeth. I even flossed and gargled. Heck, i also lotioned and spritzed and put on a clean outfit.
In part, so i could come here and report that i’d done it.
I’d set that in place, too. So yay me.  /ns (not sarcastic)

Honestly, i didn’t feel much better. A little better, but still so low.
I had defeating thoughts. Like, “It didn’t help. Nothing’s gonna help,” and “I’m not gonna get through this without screwing up.”

Anyone who deals with this sort of self talk may be able to relate when i share that i almost bought in to those thoughts. I mean, that’s what has usually happened, right? I feel this way and i can’t get out from under it. So there’s this feeling of inevitability. And then there’s the lack of energy or fighting spirit. These feelings use up so much energy. I spend most of my will coping, with not much left with which to fight. None left to fight, it seems to my exhausted mind.

But i think about what could happen if i give in and stop trying/fighting:

– police involvement,
– involuntary commitment,
– suicidal feelings/attempts,
– pain and suffering for my loved ones,
– loss of my “streak” and at least some modicum of starting over.

So i tried to focus on getting supper ready.
My worldview shrank to very small chunks of time. Minutes.

Hang in there until my husband gets home.
Put finishing touches on pot roast.
Set table.
Distract myself with an engrossing program.

I made it until he got home. I’d shared with him by text that i’d lost a large part of the day and was not doing well mentally/emotionally.
He was gentle and kind and asked concerned questions when he got home.
He provided a buffer between me and a somewhat contentious teenager (hey, it happens, and he doesn’t know how awful my day has been).
They enjoyed the meal and said so.

After supper my husband hugs me and says how sorry he is about my day.
He asks if there’s anything he can do to help.
I say he’s already helped some, and i thank him. He works 12hrs a day, 6 days/wk, and so i keep supper late, and he sits down to eat before he showers, so that we can eat together as a family, before our son retires to his room.
While he’s showering i’m sitting right here and staring at this screen, trying to think of what to type. I want to be both honest and uplifting.

And that is when i realise that i can be.

You know what?
I’m in trouble. My mental health has been threatened by a terrible event and things could go very badly for me.
I have done all this hard work because, not only do i want to be happy and good, but i know that my mental illness can be a serious impediment to achieving those things. Especially when life happens. Which it does and it always will.

So i am sitting here with my fingers poised over my keyboard – waiting for something inspiring and poetic and deep and true to zing into existence inside my brain and zap my fingers into a rhythmic ratatat-tat on these blasted keys.

Last night my busy, busy, anxious AF brain wouldn’t let me sleep, so i made 4 1/2 dozen refrigerator cookies. Chocolate Haystacks, a childhood favourite.

Today i realised that i’d lost time and i texted my husband and told him i was in a bad place.

I knew things could go badly and i knew i didn’t want them to and i knew that it’s up to me to cope.
I reminded myself that my brain works in weird and fantastical ways, and i may not handle things as well as i -or anyone else for that matter- might like.

Today, i made a labour-intensive, slowcooker pot roast, while switched.

I have made it through the day without going full Eeyore.

While i am not currently suicidal, i can feel it, looming in the background like dark wings ready to fly. Whatever comes i feel even more committed and competent to handle it than i did yesterday. And that is a reasonable expectation realised.

This piece may have a metric fuck-tonne of mistakes in it, but i think i should post it without proofreading. That’s something i never do, but i don’t want to overthink this and end up not posting because it’s so raw and lacking any flowery accoutrement. I admit i checked my spelling of the fancy French word. Heh.

Love and Peace and THANK YOU,

~H~

I’m Fixin’ to Sing

MONDAY:

Holy Moly. It’s not going to be as easy as i’d hoped.

  1. Have a good, hard think.
  2. Have an epiphany, or even just a good realisation.
  3. Share it with others.
  4. Feel better.
  5. Resume living as before the “incident”.

 

It was relatively effortless to get out of bed at 5:30 and get Man-Thingy and Kiddo off to school, i think because they needed me to do things for them. I make lunches, i hunt down lost items (i think the uterus may truly be a tracking device, Roseanne), and i send them off with affection and best wishes for a good day. But then they’re gone, and my Little Crooked House is empty, save dogs and my own thoughts.

It’s only sheer force of will that has me writing this. I very much don’t want to. You see, i know the purpose of this is to keep me moving forward. I’m committed to plodding along, no matter how slow my pace. But i don’t want to. What i want to do is nothing. I want to go back to bed and hide in my dreams. I feel heavy – slow and tired. What i want is absolutely counterintuitive to what i need. I know that writing will help, but i don’t want any damn help, pleaseandthankyouverymuch. I would prefer to stop typing right now; delete all these words, go to bed and pretend it never happened. But i have it here, and this cursed site keeps telling me it saved my draft… And i would know i’d deleted it and i would feel like a failure. I would know i’d given up, when i could have given a little more. I would know that i’d taken the easy way out when i was capable of taking the hard way. I would know these words on this blog had been here and i’d come at least this much closer to being just a little more functional in my life. Maybe i’d feel a little bit more successful and maybe, just maybe, i’d feel a bit happier and a bit more satisfied with who i am and how i live my life.

Can you hear me talking myself out of going back to bed, and into action? Because that’s what i’m doing. I warned you that the coming blog posts may be, well, kinda shitty. I believe i used animal testicles by way of metaphor. I didn’t have a plan when i started this blog, beyond sharing how my brain works. I had hopes it would keep me moving forward, perhaps even give me some momentum -not too much because manic- but just enough. I also dared to hope that i might be able to help someone reading about me and how my brain works. The benefit of accepting the general consensus that i’m odd, is that i think i might just have a unique perspective, one that someone else who reads this might find resonant, comforting, encouraging, or even just informative.

 

**********

TUESDAY:

Jeepers Creepers. Yesterday was a day.

So as i was finishing writing that last little bit, i knew that i had to stop writing and go do something. I had to accomplish something that took physical effort. Movement beyond that of my hands typing on a keyboard was required to get out of the funk in which i found myself. I saved my draft, and got up to make bread. With 2 men eating 2 sandwiches in their lunch nearly every day, it saves us quite a bit of money. Plus, i feel more competent and successful, and the men in my house feel special. The rewards far outweigh the effort. I dragged myself into the kitchen and i made bread.

I’m thinking as i work, and my thoughts go from deep and contemplative, to lighter and more focused on my daily schedule. What do i need to get done today? What would i like to get done today? What would bother me at bedtime if neglected?

While the bread’s rising, i get laundry going. I reward myself by playing some games on the computer, and then the bread’s done rising. I get the bread in the oven and i clean up some clutter and i finish the laundry. Wow. I feel better. Lighter. The activity is easier and my feelings are less dreary and draggy.

I sit down and pull up my blog to tie it all up in a pretty package with a nice bow. I pulled myself out of the ditch and i’m back on the road, w00t!

I cannot access my drafts.
In fact, it says i have no drafts saved.
I know immediately that this could crush me, and send me back to Square1. Hell, it could put me at Square-1.

I decided not to think about it, and just go do something. I have a new rug, that i got off of a local give-away site, and it desperately needed shampooing. That required me to move our coffee table, which is made of stone and metal and is wicked heavy, then remove the rug and the stays underneath so i can drag the new rug in and clean it with my handy dandy shampooer. Physical effort + concentrating on the task at hand = maintenance of lighter mood.
I’m starting to do more than just figure things out, i’m actually moving on to putting what i’ve learned into action. This is huge. I mean, huuuuge.

As i dealt with my past, i saw the greatest abuse done to me was that which was done to my brain. I’m not talking about any hereditary illnesses i may have as an accident of birth. What i’m talking about is the selfish and depraved way my mind was purposefully molded.

By the time i was old enough to begin asking questions, i already knew not to ask them. I thought what i was taught to think. I used my intelligence only to reflect my parents’ beliefs and only to achieve their ends. To say i was “discouraged” from independent thinking would be putting it mildly. My mind was locked away in a prison cell, and it took me many years to even realise i was confined, let alone break out.
If you’ll indulge me in continuing with the metaphor, although i broke out of solitary confinement, still, i wandered around amongst the general population with fellow prisoners. I was so grateful to be connected to anyone, that it didn’t occur to me to look for a door. One day, as i was out in the yard, i noticed other people who lived outside – beyond the chain link fence topped with razor wire. They spoke to each other in a different language and it sounded like music to me. I wandered along the fence, trying to get closer to them, wanting to hear more songs, when i happened across a door in the fence. It wasn’t locked of course, and so i opened it and stepped through.
It hasn’t been easy to learn their language, but they’re all teachers in that they all have a song to sing. I listen and learn and i want to sing too – but i’m afraid i’ll mispronounce a word or i’ll go sharp or flat on a note. What i’m learning is that everyone sings beautifully, and when it’s the right song, even being off-key, or flubbing a line sounds good. So now i’ve just gotta get my ass out there and start singin’ my song.

Getting up off the couch and making bread is a song. So is doing the laundry, and washing my face, and brushing out my dog, and calling my husband’s mother who’s in failing health to tell her i love her and chatter away about nothing.
I was not supposed to sing.
What i mean to say, metaphor aside, is i can’t just sit around thinking about life anymore. I get this restless feeling inside me, like i’m itching to get moving. It feels wrong to stay still for too long. This is an amazing and wonderful thing. Me, always afraid of screwing up. Me, who needed so many masks to get any kind of living done at all.

Tra lala lala

 

Frickety frack i forgot to tell a most important thing! At the end of the day, i checked my blog, and there was my draft – sitting there waiting for me all smug like it taught me a lesson, or something.

I suppose it did.

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

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~

 

 

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~

 

Aftermath

 

“States are crumbling
Walls are rising high again
It’s no place for the faint-hearted
But my heart is strong
Because now I know where I belong
It’s you and I against the world
We are free”
~Muse, Aftermath

I thought i was fighting my depression. I emerged from my last round with Mania, with my glove that delivered the knockout punch held high, only for that smug bastard Depression to step into the squared circle and call me out. I had no choice but i was already so tired that i just kept pulling him in for the clinch. That SOB easily slipped my hold and clocked me with a combination.

Sucka.

The mass shooting in Orlando was at least a standing 8 count. I was dazed initially, but now i’m pissed. Depression likes it when i’m angry because it makes me vulnerable. And when i feel vulnerable i go somewhere alone and curl up in ball and try to stop my thoughts from eating me alive. Stay away from me when i’m like that because i will lash out at anyone, for no reason other than unfortunate proximity. This isn’t a fair fight. There isn’t even a referee.

**********

I don’t really talk about my sexuality at all. There was just so much inside that needed to come out and be subjected to endless scrutiny. Heh. I didn’t start to really know myself until well into my marriage, so a firm (le hahaha) definition of my sexuality came through the process of my middle-aged self-discovery. Sure, the feelings were always there, but i was raised religious. Severely sexually abused and religious. So everything was all twisted up inside and i had to undo a lot of knots and clip a lot of loose threads to reveal the original weave.

Currently, and to the best of my understanding, i’m a married, monogamous bisexual. My first preteen fumblings were with a girl, my first consensual sexual experience was with a girl, my first relationship was with a girl. I thought all of that was wrong and shameful, and so i hid it. I was well into my twenties before i realised i wasn’t obsessing over certain females because i wanted to look like them, rather that i wanted to be with them. I had no serious relationships with men until my husband. I’ll tell you bluntly that, although i tried to play at it a couple of times, i just used men for sex. I sought women for connection.  I never thought about marriage. I wasn’t driven to be in an intimate relationship with anyone, regardless of their sex. I found it difficult enough to be present for my sons. I had a couple of close girlfriends, but there was zero attraction. Meeting my husband changed everything, of course.

Once i finally had my very own person, i felt safe for the first time in my life. I began to think for myself. I began moving away from people and things that hurt me. I started making up my own mind about things, which included the big three: religion, politics, and sex. Once i had religion squared away, it was glaringly obvious that i’m bisexual. It wasn’t anything that required therapy or prayer. I’m capable of an intimate sexual relationship with a man or a woman. For that matter, i’d include trans, intersexed, and gender fluids on my list of possible partners as well.

As i stated previously though, i’m currently monogamous, and intend to remain so, if everything goes as planned. And because of my situation, most people don’t realise i’m queer. I’m not regularly subjected to hate, whether casual or targeted. As a woman i can relate to always being at least slightly afraid for my physical/sexual safety when i leave my own home, but i’m a cisfemale married to a cismale. No one gives us a second look when we hold hands or openly flirt with each other.  But make no mistake, i’m queer, and the terrible events on June 12 in Orlando felt like a jackboot on my neck.

I was raised to hate myself for myriad reasons, but the hatred i was taught to have for the LGBTQIA community slipped another in there; a silent destroyer. I kicked that lying motherfucker to the curb many years ago, but there are scars of course.

~Like the time i had just left my dead mother’s side as she lay in her hospital bed, only to be pulled aside by a family member and be told my mother had been deeply concerned for my soul, as the whole family was, because they feared i was dating a female. Was i aware i was going to hell?

~Or all the times i was “encouraged” to confess all my homosexual encounters so that i might be prayed over in tongues with much wailing and gnashing of teeth and funky chicken dancing all designed to break the evil “soul ties” i’d created, and banish all the demons that i’d invited in with my abominable behaviours.

~Or the time i lost a treasured friend because after a year of intensely close friendship, she found out my first relationship was with a woman.

~How about the fact that some of my most important relationships would become tenuous if i was too “out”?

As with all of us who aren’t heterosexual, living in a heteronormative world, i have more examples, but not as many as those of you who clearly present as lesbian, gay, trans, or otherwise queer. I’m absolutely gutted for you – for all of us. I’m trying to channel my anger appropriately, but it’s very difficult. I want to aim it at the places that hurt me the most, but it’s probably not productive. At least, it’s not when i’m this busted up inside. Let me make it clear though – i HATE religion, particularly the one i was raised in, but i see all of them as harmful and intrinsically evil. Let me also make it clear that i do not see most of its practitioners that way, but if i was the king of the world…

Anyway…

“From this moment
From this moment
You will never be alone
We’re bound together
Now and forever
The loneliness has gone”

I will continue to fight this blasted depression, and i will win. But i want you to know that i’m sorry for my complacency, unconscious and unintentional as it was.  I will do my clumsy, goofy best to take a more active role in the community. You are not alone.

I’M HERE. I’M QUEER. GET USED TO IT.

~H~