On To The Next (Processing)

Relationships are hard. Parenting is hard. Parenting a grown person is… also hard. I don’t think i’ve ever felt like i knew what i was doing with my kids. I affected a confidence i didn’t feel around others, and parroted the party line of the religion i belonged to. Within the constraints of my church and while still closely associated with family, i thought i was doing a decent job – a good job, even. However, when the progression of my mental problems and the deepening of my primary relationship began stripping me down to bare bones, i started questioning everything. For the first half dozen years as a mom i was functional, but mostly unemotional, save the couple of times i lost control with my oldest and abused him while in a rage. The details are private. He knows i’m available both for showing up for therapy and paying for it, but so far he hasn’t taken me up on my offer. Says he forgives me and seems to want it left in the past. I’m the type (obviously – i mean, if you’ve read even 2 of my blog posts you know) who wants to look at and understand everything, plus fix it all. Make it all better. Make ME feel better. Assuage my guilt.

To be fair to me, it’s also because i’m a decent human who has been rightfully convicted of my own wrongdoings, and genuinely wants to clean up my messes and make any amends possible, wherever possible. Heal the world? I’m in.
But the last couple of years i’ve learned that i was trying to force a fix on my grown children.
This last year i’ve focused on letting go and letting them be. They get to be who they are, think what they think, and feel what they feel.
Whether they forgive me or not isn’t even my business, unless they choose to make it so.

It’s the same with how they remember the past and my parenting and how they process that, which includes not processing it at all. Which includes not wanting much or even anything to do with me. Which in turn has included a lot of tears and feeling sorry for myself and moping around about it – but i think i’m through the worst of that. I just get hit with the odd wave of sadness and regret. Like today. Mania makes me ripe for emotional indulgences. I see that, and so i’m writing about it to help me cope.

These emotions are almost worse than the fear and pain from my childhood. That stuff isn’t my fault. My feelings here can be traced to my failures as a mother. Sure, there are mitigating circumstances: childhood abuse and mental illness. But that doesn’t change the fact that my sons were my responsibility, and there were many times when i didn’t meet basic standards of care.

Today, i’m not sure i truly know any of them, but i know that i want to, very badly. It’s a test of how much i’ve learned, of how grown up i actually am at this point, to wait quietly and calmly in the wings for a moment that i have no right to expect to come. I’m reaping what i’ve sown, which in this case, really sucks. (I’ve sown lots of good stuff too, but that’s not what this post today is about.) Today i’m struggling with one particular relationship. I don’t know where the lines are here. Where is my responsibility and where is his? How much do i tolerate? I’m shutting down and avoiding him and our issues, which is creating a shit environment around us. I’m still not great at setting boundaries – i tend towards all or none. I had the sense to talk it over with a friend of mine and i feel better about things, but just as i was relating that to her last night i experienced more of the same issue. The details are private. This blog is about me and my problems, not anyone i’m in a close relationship with. For that i go to my therapist, my husband (if it’s not about him), my BFF (if it’s not about her), and my treasured, internet group (it’s never about them).*

So, yesterday sucked, and today ain’t lookin’ much better. I’ll do the best i can. I checked in with my online friends and got some hugs and support. I’m blogging about what’s going on. I’m handling my continuing physical issues, and hope to have answers and relief soon. My primary relationship is solid. I’ve trimmed even further back on casual friendships and associations. I have an old piece called, “Tell Me Who You Are, And I’ll Believe You,” which i’m living out in a deeper way. I’ve kept some in my circle because i don’t like conflict and they’re nice to me, but the truth is they aren’t very good people when i take a hard look at their actions and how they treat others that aren’t me. It won’t matter to them, even if they notice (they won’t). I know a big announcement isn’t required, and i won’t be making one. My geriatric years aren’t far off, and i just don’t want to waste time with associations with cruddy humans.

I’ve danced around it, so let me be plain-speaking: For years i collected “friends” as a way of coping with my lonely and abusive upbringing. I thought it would be a wall of protection, i thought it would validate me, that it would prove to those that hurt me in the past that they were wrong, and that it would save me from future hurts. At the end of this practise, i saw that it had done none of those things. I saw that i’d been wildly indiscriminate in my choices in friends. I learned that a certain level of judgment is necessary when i’m deciding whom to have be a part of my life. And if i use “Based On Results,” (a couple of blog posts back), and “Tell Me Who You Are… ” as my units of measurement, there were a lot of people in my life that shouldn’t be. They aren’t now. They’ll probably never realise it, and i see that as good fortune.

In summation, today i am melancholy and full of regrets. I can, will, and am handling it. Today will be what it will be, and i’ll get through it as well as i can. I will take care of myself, my home, and my loved ones where i’m able. I will let go of what i can’t manage and try to be gentle where it’s good to be, and give myself a little push here and there where it’s okay to do so. It’s likely that i’ll make a mistake or 2. I’ll acknowledge it, do what i can if it can be put right, and move on. On to the next.

Bought the land, tore the motherfuckin’ house down
Bought the car, tore the motherfuckin’ roof off
Ride clean, I don’t never take th’shoes off
~ On To The Next One, Jay-Z (Swizz Beatz)

Happy Friday, and Here’s to a Good Weekend,
Love and Peace,
~H~

*Not to say i talk about these people behind their backs. I do to a certain extent, but only to process: to figure out what’s going on so i can properly address the issue; with them if it’s required/important. I handle things better if i can take a step back and get someone else’s eyes on the situation before i proceed.

IMAGE: Avinash Kumar

Identifying Issues In Real Time

Like i wrote yesterday in my hey-let’s-blog-through-a-mania-and-see-what-happens! post, i can see evidence that i am, indeed, in a manic state. While proofreading i became progressively more wound up and irritated, until i snapped at both my husband and my son for no particular reason. I apologised immediately and arranged to be alone, so as to avoid any further stress. The extra awareness i have from blogging enabled me to mark my churlishness in real time. While the words and the tone were leaving my mouth i knew they were inappropriate for the situation, and had to do with me and my mental state, and nothing whatever to do with my husband or son.
That’s kind of awesome.
As a highly dissociative person i’ve spent more time cleaning up relationship messes than most. My Bits N’ Pieces can slide into the face and do all sorts of damage, but it’s not just parts of my system. I’ve spent a great deal of my life floating around, not entirely focused on other people, my surroundings, or my situations. I’m sure i came off as rather vapid sometimes, but i was distancing myself out of fear. I expected to be hurt, and between home and school, i was right to expect it.

Yesterday, i knew i’d spoken out of turn.
I knew it was about my mental state and not about them.
I apologised, and made amends by changing the situation to reduce stress. I took some time alone to ground and centre myself.
I reaffirmed that Yeah, i’m acting manic, but i know it.
I can identify the behaviours as they’re happening:
– i saw it in my blog post;
– i saw it in my interactions with my family;
– i marked it in my racing thoughts;
– i felt it in my intense emotions.
I reminded myself how much work i’ve done and that i’ve accumulated many coping skills.
I told myself that it’s gonna be okay and i can handle this –and if i can’t– i know i can and will seek help. I know what to do, i know where to go, and i have excellent, completely trustworthy support.

Today my pinched nerve flared up and it was hard to breathe and move around. I reached out to friends and asked for support by way of funny and/or lovely distractions, which were quickly provided. I took some pain relievers and rested in bed, reading and watching a movie. I easily banished any guilty feelings. When i felt able to, i got up, made my bed, got dressed, did my skin care and slapped on some makeup. I was able to be there for a friend who needed to talk. I taught my son how to make homemade tomato soup.

My husband came home from work early, so we grabbed a drive-thru coffee and talked about our day.
I can still feel irritation bubbling around inside me, but i know it’s coming from me and not anyone else. I’M the cause of my hair trigger annoyance, not anyone or anything else. The knowledge gives me enough inner strength to stand down, take a step back, and breathe through it until it passes. I was inexplicably gripped by panic a few times today too, and i handled it the same way. I acknowledged it, i knew where it was coming from, and i took some time to breathe and tell myself positive and encouraging things until the feeling passed.

Now i’m going to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with the soup, and i’m going to spend time with my guys and shnuggle my pets.
Today was a fine day.
Looking forward to tomorrow.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Jennifer Burk

Based On Results

After my mother died, my stepfather was left with a lot to process, i’m sure. She’d gotten her hooks into him early, starting when she’d babysit him and his siblings when they were very small children, and then later, when he was an adolescent. I know the sexual abuse began quickly, and by the time he was 15 he’d quit high school and was living with us. When he turned off her life support (a car accident involving a drunk driver), she was 45 and he was 27.

Some time after she was gone, he came for a visit, and said he’d paid for my registration to attend this week long, group therapy/encounter session course. Told me it was transformative. I went, mostly because i did whatever he’d ask of me. That was back in the day when i put all the blame for the abuse on her alone, and didn’t hold him accountable. (It was always niggling around in the back of my mind, though. It was some years before i was able to see that childhood abuse doesn’t excuse one from committing child abuse.) I was still seeking acceptance and approval – especially from a person who’d functioned in a parental capacity for more than 12yrs.

The group was your typical encounter group (i say typical because i have a lot of experience with various forms of therapy, starting early in my childhood). They asked questions like, “What are you pretending not to know?” and yelled at us like they were drill sergeants. One phrase they repeated over and over was, “Based on results…”

For example:
– Based on results, you don’t think you’re worth anything better than getting hit every night;
– Based on results, you’re satisfied with the amount of money your boss pays you to do your job;
– Based on results, you’re exactly where you want to be in life.

In short – they were a bunch of jerks. I ate it up at the time, of course. I thought they were amazing, and even paid for the next level. Most of the instructors were arrogant and sarcastic, and talked to us like we were idiots. That’s just how my parents acted, so i ate that shit up.
But like my experiences with other courses, therapy/therapists, and programs (self help and not), i did learn some stuff i’ve been able to apply. One of those places actually taught me that when they told me, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
Thank you, i will.

Although the course came at their base concepts with a crappy tone, like, How could you not know this? Duh! i could see the wake up call it could provide me. It reminded me that most people wanted things in life, and they were setting goals and working towards them. I was starting to see that i wasn’t living, so much as being tossed about on the waters of life, no course, no rudder. I knew my situation wouldn’t change unless i took active steps to do so. I’m still being generous to them though, because all the courses ultimately were was what many might refer to as “common sense.” They couched it in the current pop psychology slang, revealed it to us in a strangely militaristic style within school play scenarios. Then they tempted and taunted us with promises of hidden, esoteric knowledge, and the thing i wanted most – to belong. This was an exclusive club, and all i had to do was come up with enough money to ascend to the upper echelons (where i could wear expensive suits and treat people like they were stupid, too!)

Right here is where i could become caustic in my commentary, suffice to say that i have a significant amount of experience with the pop psychology/self help world of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s probably obvious what my opinion is regarding such, so i’ll leave it there. It wasn’t all awful, and i was able to glean some things from all of the steps and levels and playacting. I’ve seen such programs do a great deal of good for a number of people. For me personally, i couldn’t share to the depth some required. I’d been raised to keep some things hidden, and as a multiple i’d done that so well that even i didn’t know a lot of things. Also, the complexity of my problems proved unmasterable by the quick fix, and my past full of religious issues never lent itself well to any membership requirements or steps to success or common referrals to anyone’s god/supernatural beliefs.*

Back to the oft-repeated phrase of my title. While the group’s liberal use of it seems like victim-blaming a bunch a variously broken and desperately seeking people –as i’ve done with so much of that psychological pablum– i’ve turned it into something i can use. Which, to put aside my obviously hurt and angry feelings for 1 darn second, may have been their intention. (Some of them. Others were just opportunistic dicks.)

I’ve recently suffered a fairly serious setback to my physical health. These days i’m limited in what i can accomplish along the lines of housework and exercise. Because these are 2 of the best things i do to feed and maintain my self-esteem, i’ve been feeling a bit down, emotionally speaking. I don’t feel useful, and worse, i feel like a burden on those i love most. I’ve felt like a pathetic slob. I knew if i didn’t address these thoughts and feelings soon, i’d find myself in a spiral.
So am i a useless layabout? Best way to handle the messages my brain is sending me is to meet them head on, so to speak. Heh.

If i were to judge how successful i am based on results… I am fairly successful. I have more than enough of everything i need to physically survive, emotionally thrive, and more than enough mental stimulation at my literal fingertips to keep learning and growing as a human. And i’m the one who built this life around me. A lot of the life i enjoy today is a direct result of choices i made and yes, the toil of my own hands. I have only the people in my life that i want to, and do only that which i want or am at least willing, to do. I am a living combination of fortunate and scrappy.

All to say i now find it occasionally useful to ask myself, Based on results:

– am i healthy;
– am i successful;
– am i happy/satisfied?

The questions, to my mind, encourage me to evaluate what i’m producing.
Am putting out into the world what i intend?
Am i coming along well, progressing, moving along this path at a decent pace, achieving goals and racking up some accomplishments as i go?
Am i more the person i want to be?
Do i have more of what i want?

Perhaps i’m in the weeds emotionally/mentally. Maybe i’ve got some issues in one of my relationships. I might look inward and feel unhappy and/or dissatisfied. I might look in the mirror and have trouble focusing because i don’t like what i see. Then there are more questions:

Is this a result of either action or inaction on my part?
Is this life doing what life does?
Is this just an uncomfortable and/or difficult part of an ongoing process?

Depending on the answers there are, of course, more questions.
Do i need to change something?
Do i need to work/work harder at something?
Have i missed something i could be doing, or dropped something i used to do, that has, or might help?

Today, was a slow, decent day. I had to kick my own ass a bit to get moving, but i had reasonable expectations that i based on my current situation. I had an idea, based on the time i’ve spent in this current situation, of how much energy i had to spend. I asked myself, based on that, what was most important to me to accomplish. Then i started at the top and worked my way down, stopping when, based on prior experience, i recognised my body telling me that to continue accomplishing more would likely cost me more spoons than i wanted to use. In other words, continuing to cross things off my to-do list might potentially intensify my pain and/or my manic state.

And so, based on what i know and what i wanted, i finished the day satisfied with how i’d conducted myself, and pleased with my results. Today was a good day. I’m still manic, and i’m dealing with a fair amount of physical pain, which limits what i can do, but i got enough done. Beyond basic hygiene and light housekeeping though, my interpersonal relationships were rewarding and nurturing and supportive for all parties involved. I’m pleased with my conduct, and the people i interacted with are satisfied with mine (i asked).

If i wasn’t satisfied with some aspect of how i’d lived the day, i’d take a look and try and figure out what went wrong or otherwise didn’t happen the way i wanted. From there i’d maybe try something different or try a bit harder or cut myself a bit more slack. Tweaking things here and there to see if i can improve on things.
Then based on results, i’ll change or alter something.
It’s all designed to get more of what i want and less of what i don’t.

Today was decent. As i proofread and edit, however, i can see strong evidence of my mania in this post. It’s a bit nonsensical and rambly, and i’m not sure there’s a cogent point here. I mean, i can see lots of good stuff here, but it’s not put together particularly well.
I sat on it for a few hours while i decided whether or not to put it up.
I’ve decided to throw it up because, if nothing else, it can serve as a demonstration of my process through times when my brain function is particularly problematic. Maybe this doesn’t seem as frantic and lost to anyone else. There have been times before when i’ve posted something that i thought was a bit too far out, only to read it later and think it wasn’t that big a deal at all. This entry reads jumbled and meandering and very animated, to me.

So there you have it. I’m manic in a pandemic and this is how my brain’s handling it. I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. I have excellent support and i know that i’ll just keep on truckin’ until i’ve moved through whatever this is and on to the next adventure.
Is this what my grandmother would have called a dog’s breakfast?
Heh.

I’ll check in tomorrow if i can, and i guess we’ll see how it’s all going.
Until then, y’all hang in there.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*I will say, steps and programs and other people’s gods taught me something extremely important, and that is that my path is my own. I found the way to health and freedom and happiness by seeing that i was going my own way, and so is everyone else. They all helped me to know myself and find my voice, insofar as i understood that i want to tell the story of how i have learned to live and even thrive, with the circumstances of my birth and upbringing, and my overarching message is that it CAN be done, rather than HOW.

IMAGE: Amador Loureiro

Diggin’ Around in My Toolkit

Okay, so… Physically, i ain’t doin’ so hot.

For months now, my fibromyalgia pain has been intensifying, and radiating to other areas. My RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) has worsened, spreading to my arms and back, coming on during the day as well as night, and increasing in frequency until it’s most days i’ll have at least a short episode or even 2. My headaches have moved from a band squeezing across my temples, to originating at the base of my skull and pulsing out in electric lightning bolts over one side only. My hands are stiff and painful, my forearms regularly numb, and my sciatica has returned after years, although thankfully it’s intermittent. I have a pinched nerve near my right shoulder which was further limiting my mobility and ability to complete simple housework and hygiene. I can explain it all with fibro and its accompanying issues (IBS, RLS, chronic headaches), plus having osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis), severe Bruxism, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (diagnosed many years ago and whose symptoms mostly disappeared due to significant weight loss). However, the rise in severity and frequency of these issues is seriously affecting my quality of life.

I’ve been avoiding my doctor (whom i generally see every 3-6mos), the ER, all of it, due to extreme anxiety – practically instant panic attacks at the mere suggestion of going there. Finally, it became such an impediment to my daily life that i mustered my nerve and went in to see her. She ordered a bunch of tests, as i’d known she would. Before i could get them done, i managed to mess myself up even worse.

I’ve had terrible balance my entire life. I think it’s partly due to being so dissociative, but also a result of the type of epilepsy i have (dormant for years, no meds), which affected my inner ear and hence, my balance. I’m incredibly clumsy. Not that sort of oh-i’m-such-a-klutz that so many deal with. I know that’s a thing, and it can be problematic, but what i deal with is significantly more than that. I’ve broken my ankle, my coccyx, my finger, my nose, and my leg in 3 places. I’ve had multiple concussions, hundreds of stitches, and i’m sporting a few bruises at any given time. My ears can start ringing so badly i can’t do anything but sit down and wait for it to pass. I also have vertigo. All this to say i don’t know which of these played a part in what happened, but it could have been any or all. Or perhaps something else.

I was a bit switchy during and after my wedding anniversary. I wasn’t in the face when i fell, but i was thrust back in as soon as i hit the floor. From what my husband and i can gather i’d gotten up from bed for something, and slipped, hitting my face on the wall and then slamming down on the hardwood floor, with my arms at my sides, palms facing up. I had the wind knocked out of me and my arms were paralysed. I could not move them to push myself up off the floor (i’m size Amazon, so it was quite the feat for my husband to get me up and back on the bed). The next morning i had a Neanderthal brow, 2 black eyes, and a massive hematoma across my jawline, spreading up onto my cheek. I couldn’t look to the left or right, nor up or down. And my arms were basically useless – they felt like they were skinless and just a mass of screaming nerve endings. My brain felt like it might explode, and my skull as if it could shatter at any moment.

Since then, the bruises have faded and i enjoy some movements free from pain, but still, i’m relatively incapacitated. I rely on my son to help me cook and clean, and exercising (treadmill, elliptical, dog-walking) has had to be put on the back burner – again. GRR. And now my guts aren’t working well at all. No TMI, but i’m not digesting very much of what i ingest, and so i’m hungry all the time, but i can’t eat without pain and discomfort quickly following. ARGH.

As i blogged yesterday, i did go in to the city and get my tests done. Things are now in motion and we’ll have a better idea what’s going on in the next couple of weeks. Since my symptoms have become this level of debilitating, no one in this house goes into any building we don’t absolutely have to. No matter what, if indeed anything, is going on, my resistance is down due to sheer exhaustion, so we’re being extra careful. Drive-thrus, curbside pickups, and online shopping only.

It’s been incredibly frustrating. Since i fell i haven’t been able to have anything touch my arms without pain. Up until a couple of nights ago i couldn’t lay in any position without my nerves going all hyper-jangly, and i couldn’t shnuggle my husband or my pets for comfort. The day before yesterday i was finally able to –slowly and carefully– turn my head to the right. Yesterday i couldn’t turn my head to the left for most of the day (i had to laugh, because i woke up up saying Yay, i can look right! to swiftly and painfully realising that Boo, i can’t look left!), but the pinch lessened late in the evening. I was actually able to cuddle up to my man for the first night since it happened – heavenly. So comfort. Very sleep (3hrs straight, whee!). WOW.

This morning i woke to pain and exhaustion and worry. After slouching around feeling like a grouchy sack of poo, i made a decision. I took some of my frenetic energy, and channelled it into making my bed and getting out of my jammies. My son cleaned up the kitchen as i ate some food, and while i’m still having the same tummy issues, the act of eating is still pleasurable. I’m getting some nutrition, and i’m not in danger of starving. Heh. I put on an outfit that i’ve always saved for when spring is in full swing (spring is decidedly NOT swinging, mmkay?). I changed my jewellery out for some pretty pastel earrings and a silver atom necklace, and i’ve even managed to slap on some makeup. My son enjoys cooking, and i’m looking forward to my husband coming home, as he’s been working for 7 days without a break. I’m watching terrible found footage horror movies and i’m about to stuff my face full of popcorn.

I’m a seriously mentally ill human who’s haunted by a terrible childhood. I will always be this human. But here’s the thing: I am learning to live life on life’s terms, and make the most of what i have to work with. I’ve worked so hard and for so long to get here.
This morning i got up, and within 15mins i’d snapped at my husband and son for no reason. After sulking for a bit, i stopped and took to my room. I sat on my bed and took stock of myself, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m manic. My thoughts are racing and tough to catch. My emotions are running high and momentarily spiking higher. I’m physically exhausted and in a significant amount of pain.
I got up, left my room, and got myself properly caffeinated. While power slurping some freshly ground and french-pressed Irish Cream coffee, i asked myself how i wanted to handle today’s set of challenges. I knew how right then – as soon as i’d asked. I decided to use my mania to pull myself out of my funk and stiff-upper-lip it with regards to the pain and worry. Not to have a bunch of exciting interactions with other people online. Not to spring clean my house, not to make a 3-course supper, not to make myself up like a supermodel… Just to get dressed, do a bit of light housekeeping and self-care. Eat, read, learn something, have a low key convo with my Kiddo, pet my pets. And blog.
That’s not the only double-edged tool i have, though. I could dissociate from the pain if i wanted. But that tool stays in the box. If the pain was too much, either on its own or in combination with a bunch of other things, i might have picked it up and used it. But dissociation + mania = potential for disaster. That’s magical thinking. That’s mania unleashed. Not today, Satan.
Oh look, i’ve gone and done a blog post.

Now, for tea and popcorn.
Also, this movie SUCKS.
Blargh.

I’ll try to check in again tomorrow.
Monday-Funday.
Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. It’s just another manic Monday, oh-ooh-oh… /lalala

Blood Work and Bliss

Today i am even more aware that i’m in a manic state. Blogging about it yesterday helped make it that much more real for me. You know, like it’s supposed to do.

I’m mildly annoyed and easily infuriated from the moment i open my eyes in the morning until i close them at night. And they don’t remain closed, because i can’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. Even better (/s), those few precious hours are filled with emotionally draining dreams, like getting lost, losing the people i was with, my pets getting hurt or killed, and –my favourite– uncomfortable associations with estranged family members. UGH. While i’m very much at peace with my decision to pull away from all living family (on my side), save my kids and 1 cousin, i’m not immune to missing them. I am merely inured to reestablishing contact.

Yesterday when i was thinking and writing about my current mental/emotional state, i wondered if i fully qualified as manic, because i didn’t feel euphoric. Today, i realise i sure as heck do. It’s fleeting, but it’s occurring over and over. I was texting with some of my favourite people today, and while it was a brief interchange, i was blissed out the entire time. I had to get some blood work done today, and i was experiencing a wave of intense anxiety. I reached out to them, and as soon as someone replied, i wasn’t just not anxious any longer, i was wildly happy. I felt loved and accepted and suddenly the world was a beautiful place. I wanted to go buy doughnuts and coffee and give them out to everyone at the lab – and people on the street.

Thanks to the awareness i have now that i’m probably manic, i was able to see those thoughts and feelings as a red flag. I was able to step out of the way of the tidal wave coming at me. I said to myself, Whoa, H, this ain’t Woodstock. This is a pandemic. It grounded me very quickly. The awareness and confirmation it brought with it gave me extra power and control, as well. I also know there’s an insidious danger to the power i feel and the control i currently have. Mania makes it all like dancing on the head of a pin. It could easily morph into feeling 10ft tall and bulletproof – and that’s an unhealthy place for me. There is a constant danger that i’ll spin out of control.

At this moment i’m not freaked out about it. I am who i am and this is what it is and i’ll do what i must to get through it as well as i can.
Will try to post again tomorrow.

Y’all hang in there, y’hear?

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Sharon McCutcheon

Ninja Brain

I know I’ve got a tendency
To exaggerate what I’m seein’
And I know that it’s unfair of me
To make a memory out of a feelin’
It’s ’cause I notice every single thing
That’s ever happening in the moment
And I don’t know why it’s consumin’ me
~ I Hate Everybody, Halsey


I am bipolar. I was diagnosed less than 20yrs ago. I have the kind of bipolar characterised by intense manias. My first diagnosed mania lasted more than 2yrs. After that, i plunged into a depression that was as deep as my mania had been high, and it lasted about as long. What followed were years of long, slow, intense cycling between the 2. I could always count on my depression to be inversely proportional to my mania.

I now think that has changed. As i’ve learned to deal with my incredibly interesting brain (if you’re reading a sarcastic tone here, you get an internet cookie), my cycling has shortened and the intensity of each aspect has lessened. Thank goodness. For the first number of years i was in and out of hospital. It was, ah, kind of a big deal. It was part of what broke me down to the point where i was finally willing to deal with my DID diagnosis. As soon as i found a therapist i could work with in that area (hahaha, i used the word “soon”), my issues with being bipolar swiftly took a backseat. The mental health professionals in my area (and let’s be clear, when i started dealing with my multiplicity, i lived in a very metropolitan area of over 1 million), treated DID like a fart in church. Out of all the quirks and eccentricities and generally not typical neurological processing going on in my brain, the dissociation aspects have proved the most disruptive and problematic.

My therapist deals with causes though, rather than symptoms, so it didn’t matter that my Bits N’ Pieces were consistently taking centre stage, because it all stemmed from a couple of root causes. As with anyone, it’s nature, it’s nurture – where and to what extent is unique and individual. Both my manic and depressive behaviours were easily identifiable to me, and i had accumulated a good amount of education from various sources from which i was able to assemble a handy toolkit for that particular flavour of my crazy.* There are some parts of my system that seem to be able to be affected by mania/depression, others that don’t. It didn’t matter because it all wound up being processed by me with my therapist.

Over time i eventually (mostly) stopped even seeing the way my brain works in terms of the diagnoses i’ve been given. Now i just check in consciously every day (more if necessary), figure out where i’m at, and adjust my lifestyle accordingly. I do basic brain housekeeping, fix simple problems on my own, and call in a professional when the job is too big or complicated for me to handle by myself. I’ve settled in to a remarkably functional, daily routine. When the virus hit, i kept my therapy up by phone, but a couple of months ago i felt well enough to take a break. Peopling is the biggest trigger for me, so being isolated has drastically cut down on my emotional upheaval and any resultant dysfunction.

But.

It’s been creeping up in the background, so subtly i completely missed its approach. I saw it for what it was on my recent wedding anniversary. I got too stimulated and became agitated. I switched soon afterward and lost a couple of days. I don’t always need or want a blow-by-blow account of what happens when i’m dissociated, but this time i did. The more i heard the more obvious it became that i’m currently manic. I couldn’t see it when i was in the face, but when switching gave me a bit of distance, it became abundantly clear. I’m extremely easily annoyed and deeply paranoid. I want to use drugs and alcohol to excess. I go from 0-60 emotionally, in mere seconds. I can go from calm to complete overwhelm in the space of a single breath. My thoughts are racing so fast it’s been hard to identify what i’m thinking about anything. And i’ve been chasing sleep for a couple of weeks.
The thing that might have thrown me off the scent of anything being wrong is that my last bipolar episode was also a mania. I skipped the depression part. In fact, i think i’ve been skipping the depression side of my bipolar for some time, now.

I don’t know what this means for my diagnosis. It doesn’t currently matter because the symptoms are manageable and i’ll keep dealing with the cause, as well. I’m wondering if maybe it wouldn’t be helpful to do a daily blog for a bit. It could help with staying conscious and grounded. It could point out if/when i need to call in a professional. It could provide some extra focus and reaffirm my commitment to this work. Sometimes my brain is a ninja.

I have no idea how useful it would be for anyone else. My physical health is in the dumper, and now with mania too, i’m having trouble with cogent thinking and communication. It might be a shitshow. Let’s find out, shall we? Heh.

Love and Peace,
~H~
* I use words that some see as a pejorative to describe myself, because i find it freeing and healing to do so, YMMV.

IMAGE: Matthew Brodeur

Momentum

I didn’t blog the next day after my last post, but i am today, and i feel okay about that. Momentum is good for me, but must be strictly managed. Too fast and mania kicks in, but a little certainly helps me feel better about myself and get more done. It’s a healthy cycle: i do some stuff, i feel better about myself, which lightens my mood, which frees up some energy, so i do some more stuff. And as a gain momentum, i take fewer breaks and accomplish more things between them. I’m careful though, ever watchful for warning signs that mania is seeping in.

I’ll catch it first in my feelings. It’s an urgency, coupled with dissatisfaction.
Then thoughts. It’s not enough. I need to do more. I should be doing more.
Soon, i’ll begin comparing myself to others, and finding myself always coming up short.
I’m not doing enough. I am not enough.

It’s then my thinking can become twisted by the mania, as i compare myself TO myself. All the times that i’ve done all the things and had all the successes and looked and felt and was FABULOUS… All those times that i was manic AF.

I must be vigilant against its approach, its encroachment. Manias are a cyclone that can quickly become a storm and then a hurricane, leaving destruction in its wake. Sometimes the damage can’t be undone. Some of my surroundings, my relationships, and even aspects of my health, are unsalvageable. In my past i have destroyed some lovely and precious things.

I don’t see that on my horizon right now, and that’s good.
I’m more than capable of the proverbial dime-turn, however, and so for that, and so many other reasons, i practise mindfulness and keep watch over my brain, and all my Bits N’ Pieces.

My last post brought me more into the here and now, and afforded me a not insignificant amount of peace. I’m struggling, but i’m okay. I’m in the face, in control. Managing. Mindful. I’m present in my (albeit limited) relationships. I’m functioning at a satisfactory level. I’m silver lining everything, and it’s not forced. The shit is just that – shit.
But the light is there too, and i’m not pretending i can see it.
I’m not stiff-upper-lipping, because screw that nonsense.
Being present and mindful for me means acknowledging the bad and the good. There is balance required in the seeing and the sharing of it, which requires me to pay attention, but that’s absolutely fine because that’s been integral to any long term successes i’ve had in my life.

Dissociation allowed me to survive.
Conscious involvement –in myself, my loved ones, and the world around me– allows me to thrive.

I’m not currently in danger of a mania, or depression, or switching.
I’m here, i’m in it, and i’m not going anywhere.
(Seriously, i’m not. I’m stuck in my goddamn house like the rest of us. Heh.)

Hang in there, everyone.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Valerie Blanchett

My Travelling Pants

When the pants you’ve been wearing for a week walk off the job in disgust, you may be having some issues.

Yeah, i joke, but i’ve been low functioning these last few months, and getting lower. Perhaps it’d be more accurate to state that my lows are getting lower. I still crawl outta that hole i fell in and get more functional for a time, but it’s still only marginally better than the hole. Before the pandemic hit my periods of better functioning were longer, and i would get closer to the level i was at when i first started this last bout of therapy nearly 2yrs ago.

I’m bipolar, and the best way i’ve found to cope with the manic side of me, is to take only very small, slow steps towards better functioning. It has been my overwhelming experience that going any faster only makes me fall flat on my face harder. Plus, it can trigger a mania – and my manias can last years and cause massive destruction. So i’m a baby-stepper. But babystepping isn’t helping me right now. I’m slipping lower and lower, every time i fall, and as i said, the falls are coming more frequently.

So, i’ve decided to change it up a bit. Just a small experiment, to see if it helps. I’m setting up parameters like length of time, and those who will be overseeing my work.
I’m going to try pushing a little harder.
Those of you who read my blog -especially those that know me personally- don’t freak out. It will be a 3-day trial following my phone therapy session with Ms T this week.

Sometimes shaking things up a bit is just the remedy.

I’m currently fighting a mania. If you aren’t aware, yes, lows can be a part of manic behaviour (and usually are, in some form or fashion). I’m going to feed it a bit of what it wants, but carefully, and strictly measured. No coke binges or booze benders, here. And the positive side of the pandemic is that my anxiety levels ensure that there’s no danger of suddenly becoming my old, social-butterfly self. Heh. What i’m talking about is positive accomplishments. I’m going to feed it some self-esteem.

I’ve worked hard to be okay with the way my brain works. Sometimes that means dialing things back to the bare minimums. I throw prepackaged foods in the oven and microwave to feed my family – or hubby brings home take away. If i can’t be arsed to get in the shower, well, maybe i can just get the pits n’ bits treatment, and splash some water on my face, leaving my usual, rather involved skin care regimen on the shelf for a day or 2 or 10. I ask my son and husband for help with household chores that i normally consider my domain (i’m a right prig about the laundry), and the upkeep of my kitchen is something i actually enjoy. When i ask though, i consciously let go of my need to have it all done a certain way. I also let go of the things i do for exercise, and we have low maintenance doggos, who don’t mind if i can’t walk them for a few days (they still get a bit of exercise around our yard – we live on a farm). I try to write what i can, but honestly, that’s usually the first thing that goes.
Once i start feeling better, i slowly add things back in.
This is a proven helpful and effective way to deal with life as me.

But it’s not working these last months, or better said, it’s not helping.
I’m gonna flip the script, briefly, and see what happens.
If my support system says No, i will advocate further, and probably fiercely. But in the end, if they cannot be swayed, then the trust is there for me to acquiesce.

After my session with my therapist, my plan is to either write, or immediately get on the treadmill if i’m feeling like taking off. (For those unfamiliar with this habit of mine: When i am triggered or feel overwhelmed, i will often dissociate and leave the house at top speed and hit our old country road for a walk towards the highway. Often, nothing good comes from that, and sometimes, very bad things happen.) After this initial absorbing of whatever has come up for me during our talk, i will decide what to do next, based on how i’m feeling, what i’m thinking, and what my body might be trying to tell me.

So, grok me:

– i will be the cooking the suppers,
– i will be washing the bod and the face on the regular,
– i will be doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen,
– i will be walking the doggos (they will be so happy!),
– i will be keeping up with both my writing and my reading.

I will be keeping the thing i do where i reward my accomplishments regularly with down time. Lots of futzing about on the computer, watching anime with my Kiddo and my current various streaming services series obsessions. I will stop for ice cream or chocolate or potatoes at my whim. And i will drop everything and call my husband or BFF or text Ms T if i sense or feel trouble.
It’ll just be for a few days, and then we’ll take stock. Me, my support system, and of course my precious Bits N’ Pieces. We’ll all have a say and then we’ll decide if i continue as is, maybe push a little harder, or if it would be best if i stopped.

Maybe my pants will forgive me and come back.

It’s time now for the show
Put on my makeup, away I go
I’ll say a prayer
That I will see you out there

So when the show is done
You’ll take my hand, away we’ll run
Along home, to make supper
~ Storm Large, Under You

Pockets Full of Noes

As soon as i hear the words “you should… ” i’m out.

I remember an old nugget from 12-step that refers to “terminal uniqueness”, and while i understand what they’re getting at, i reject the concept. There literally cannot be another person exactly like me, as i’m not an identical twin, and human cloning isn’t a thing. And since we’re all gonna die… There you go. I’m terminally unique. So what?

I spent my upbringing plus some years after only doing what i was told, and then doing what i imagined other people would want me to do. At 21 i briefly rebelled by having a relationship with a woman for nearly 2yrs. When that ended in disaster and i immediately went out and got myself pregnant, i saw it as confirmation that my way was the wrong way, and i returned to being/doing what i thought was expected of me… Mostly.

Having a child seemed to give me an ability to stand up for things that had to do with him. I defied my family a number of times where he was concerned. I received a few phone calls whenever they discovered that i wasn’t raising him the way they thought i should. I bucked family traditions. Despite still being willingly tied to their toxic religion and having a boatload of hangups and twisted thinking due to its entanglements in my thinking and lifestyle, i did manage not to inflict some of the worst of it on my boys. They were raised with a healthy body image, and in a relatively sex positive household.

I went directly against some of my former religion’s most stridently applied dogma, as well. Once my obsessive and unhealthy relationship with my girlfriend ended, i made sure i only chose partners for whom my feelings were mild and manageable. I was looking for bed partners, for the most part, although i played at being engaged to please my family. When i stumbled across real romantic love for the first time, a friend confronted me with my hypocrisy. I was regularly attending church, and actively involved in anything they did outside of Sunday services. My friend, who was experimenting with a possible return to the faith, pointed out that i would be judged a fornicator by my own purported standards.
She was right, i was convicted, and i promptly asked my boyfriend to marry me.
(SPOILER: He said Yes, and we’re still together.)

Looking back, i can see how dissociation was at play, here. I’d been highly sexualised as a child, and some of my Bits N’ Pieces were created specifically to handle that. They remained a part of my system even after the abuse had stopped, and were definitely the impetus behind some of my sexual behaviours once i became an active adult, i.e. sexual by choice. I was a dutiful young woman, trying hard to be the model of what my religion expected of me. I studied its book, its dogma and tenets, deeply, and at length. I pondered and “meditated” (quotes because my multiplicity has made proper meditation impossible), and yes, prayed on all of it at length – both on my own and in groups led by my church.

I just… i don’t know. It wasn’t a willful or conscious decision. As soon as someone called me on it, i knew i was in the wrong and immediately took steps to set things right. Yet i’d been having sex since i was 21, and i was religious all along. My mind did what it does and glossed over whatever it didn’t want to know. I took my sex life and compartmentalised it, as i’ve been known to do on occasion. Heh.

Other things come to mind, too. Like when my stepfather would tell my son as he was ending a visit, “You take care of your mom now, y’hear?”

I would instantly respond that children don’t take care of adults, and i would reassure my son that it’s my job to take care of him. And that’s weird, because i didn’t talk back to him at that time. (I did some, to him and my mom as a teenager, and have no regrets. I wish i’d said more, but that horse galloped off years ago.)

I also wouldn’t allow anyone to coerce my children into hugs, or physical touch of any kind. Yet i had no touch boundaries of my own, with anyone – especially family. It was less than 10yrs ago that i realised i’m not a very touchy person. Even now, it’s so ingrained in me that i’ll initiate hugs when stressed/dissociated. But no one could touch my kids without their permission.*

And then there’s my extended family.
First though, i must confess. When my 2 older children were both under 5, i was close with my siblings. They’d spend lots of time with me at my house (i’m older than they are, and they have a different father). When i had my second boy, i launched into what i now know was a mild mania. I became obsessed with 12-step programs, and the friendships that i had as a result of that. I used my sibs as babysitters. Some of it was reasonable, like, when one of them was staying with me and not paying room/board. However, as i became more manic, i drifted away from “the program”, started frequenting bars, and began dating my first and only BadBoyBoyfriend (BBB).

He was trouble. My first relationship was a tumultuous one, filled with chaos, some violence, cheating, and general immaturity. I mean, we met at a halfway house, she was a violent alcoholic, and i’d been kicked out of my family because one of them tried to rape and asphyxiate me. We were fucked up kids and both of us acted that way. After that debacle, i only dated people to whom i wasn’t very attached.
Cue BBB. I was manic, and he was a handsome, charming ladies’ man. He pursued me, and i was dazzled. No guy like that had ever wanted me so brazenly. Hit me up for sex when no one else was around/available sure, but want me for a relationship? Aw, hell no. He was on parole for cocaine and beating up cops, and he was *ahem* very experienced, which was new for me. Hindsight makes it clear that i was a naive, overweight girl who’d spend money on him, and he was lonely and broke.

He took me on a number of kooky, fun adventures, and that’s when i really took advantage of my sister and brothers, using them as babysitters too often and for far too long. My heart and my bank account were flat busted when he was done with me, and i’d done irrevocable damage to my relationship with my sibs. Screwed blue and tattooed! as he’d have put it. But hey, i met my husband shortly after that, so it worked out for me in the end. (I’m now comfortably estranged from all extended family, save 1 precious cousin.)

All this buildup is to say that i had 1 more hard rule when it came to my children, a boundary that i didn’t set for myself until yeeeears later. When my sibs would be looking after my boys, they knew not to evereverEVER leave them alone with any other family members. Their secrets are sick and deep, and i knew it firsthand. It’s a long and sordid story why i was still involved with any of them, but we won’t be going there. They’re still alive, still sick AF (in my opinion), and i’m not going into personal crap that they might decide requires a response. The important part of it is that, even though i was still seeking their acceptance and approval, part of me knew they posed a potential threat to my boys, and so i protected them from situations where they might be vulnerable.

I don’t know why i’m writing about this today, or what specific point i’m trying to make, if any. My ability to compartmentalise is something that i’ve been looking at in depth recently, and i guess i just find it interesting.

All the times i said No once we got away from the man i called Daddy, and someone hit me up for sex.
All the times i sniffed out danger and got away. (I didn’t always, but i did often enough for me to feel compelled to examine it more closely.)
How i raised my boys with healthy boundaries, instinctively.
All the times i advocated for them against people i was taught to obey.
How i had no hesitation saying No for them, when i couldn’t for myself.
All the times i avoided the toxic kinds of romantic entanglements i so often saw others who’d been through childhood abuse get into.
How i had the sense to choose a good, kind, gentle, hardworking partner. I chose the absolute perfect person for me. After everything that’d been done to me; how they’d broken me, shattered me, mercilessly crushed me – how in the hell did i do that?!

I’ve come to see it as the gifts being a multiple gave me. The way my brain works enabled me to secrete parts of myself that my abusers must have been sure they’d destroyed.
My will.
My body autonomy.
My sense of self.
My ability to mother.
My desire for healthy attachments.
My freedom to choose.

Today i bristle at being told what to do. I can stubbornly stand my ground, even when it’s against people i love or those in positions i was taught to obey and not question. I say No often. I’ve drifted away from toxic people and toxic behaviours. I don’t answer the door when they knock. I’m no longer blindly obedient to anyone or anything. I make up my own mind; no one tells me what to think anymore. And woe to any and all who’d try to “should” me.

Perhaps i’m writing about this because i’m in the process of mending the severed connections between my thoughts, my feelings, and my sensations. Maybe this work is deepening and broadening my insight. I think that maybe, just maybe, i’m feeling not only compassion for myself, but some serious appreciation for how amazing i am. Hell, i might just be Queen Amazeballs of Crazy Island.

If so, i’mma need a crown.

Until next time, y’all hang in as best you can, and i promise i will, too.
Love and Peace,
~H~

I am bigger on the inside
But you have to come inside to see me…
We are so much bigger

Than another one can ever see
But

Trying is the point of life
So don’t stop trying
Promise me.
~ Amanda Palmer

*Unfortunately, while i did set some good protective barriers for my children, i did inflict a lot of religious crap on them. My church promoted homeschooling, so i did that until my oldest was 12 and my middle one was 8. I had NO business doing that. I was ill-equipped, to put it mildly. I lacked the education, the attention span, and the temperament, too. I was descending into mania, and the neglect was undeniable. They were basically not schooled at all.
This is not to say that homeschooling can’t be done well by someone else.

 

In My Cups

I’ve been avoiding writing about this for years. Over the last year or so though, i’ve mentioned it in a somewhat ancillary fashion. I think i’ve been testing the waters. If i’m going to share how my brain works and how i pursue the life i want, while juggling my particular set of issues, however, i would be remiss if i didn’t address it. It would be a lie by omission, and i do try to avoid those, here on my blog.

My addictive nature, and how that’s manifested in my life in general, and in my journey through mental illness and being neuroatypical particularly.

<insertdeepsighhere>

This will be a rough one for me.
I was raised to keep things hidden.
It was modeled for me that one doesn’t acknowledge one’s flaws, let alone talk about them. If one did, then various religions were the answer.

What i have learned though, is that people know anyway. Despite our best efforts, if we hang around with people for either long enough, or at the right moments – they’ll figure it out. (Not the biggest reason i became a hermit, but not a small one, either.) They may not know exactly what it is, but they’ll smell it on us. Something not quite right. Something’s gone off, and it’s rotting away inside.

For addiction, i have both nature and nurture. My mother ate her way up so high there was no scale at the time to weigh her. We’ve figured out ways in our current society to do so, but we’ve had to, because so many are afflicted with the problem. When my mom was super-morbidly obese, she was the fattest person anyone had ever seen in real life, everywhere we went. She’d always held food over me as a reward, and withheld it from me as punishment, and also due to neglect.

So i learned to comfort myself with food. I used it to numb out pain. It was a drug that filled me with a false and fleeting happiness. After a long and checkered history, i’ve learned enough about myself and nutrition to have found a way to handle my food issues.
Oh, but i have addictive behaviours, plural, and my relationship with food, eating, weight, and body image are well-documented in this blog already.

Food wasn’t the only thing that was used to control me as a child.
When you want her to like you, you start out with ice cream and candy.
When you want her to relax and lie still, you use alcohol and pills.

Abusers used pills, i was on pills to control my epilepsy, and when i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia as an adult, more pills. That was when i began using the non-prescription codeine to help me cope with the constant pain. By the time i was diagnosed bipolar, i was going through a 250 count bottle of the stuff in less than a week. At one point, i was on 6 different medications at the same time to try and regulate me, and oh, did i mention that i’d started drinking?

For years drinking wasn’t a problem. Then i had weight loss surgery, lost over 300lbs, and slammed into my first full blown mania. The weight loss got me lots of sexual attention and a job in the entertainment industry. More social interactions with me as the centre of everything than i’d had to deal with since my school and church years in plays and vocal performances. I was dealing with no impulse control and sexual and social anxiety through the roof. I didn’t want to eat because i was thin and i loved the way people were treating me… I worked mostly in bars, so i drank.

Between booze and the male gaze, my mania became so severe i lost my job. Mania didn’t just amp me up, either. Between it, the weight loss, and problematic drinking, my DID became a cyclone. And then came the years of psych wards, detox facilities, recovery centres, an actual mental hospital, and LOTS of religion.

As i’ve written before, none of it worked. Eventually, as my husband desperately searched for help for me, he found the therapist i’ve been working with ever since. I long ago laid down the pill-popping, but unfortunately, the drinking behaviours remain. Not the partying all the time kind of drinking, which is good. But when i fall down the rabbit hole – i drink. And there are many parts of my system who will naturally gravitate towards alcohol, because it’s familiar. It wasn’t just that it was a part of our regular life.
It’s that it helped, you see.

It’s easier to slide and switch around with alcohol. It greases the wheels, so to speak. And when, in that first real mania, my system decided to properly introduce themselves to me AND return to full duty, so too, did they return to alcohol. I could go without drinking for long periods of time, but then i would switch, and find myself drunk when i was back in the face. Or viciously hungover.

Sometimes in therapy, we touch on something and i know i’m going to drink over it. If i (specifically speaking) didn’t get some, i knew the issue was enough for me to switch, and then they’d just go get it anyway. There were times when someone or something would trigger me HARD, and i knew what was coming. Life would do what life does, and often become too much for me, and i’d fall down the rabbit hole. Crawling out always involves detoxing from a binge. I had to figure out a way to get, and maintain, some kind of control.

My therapist doesn’t really deal with addiction or bipolar stuffs, even. She focuses on my system, and helping me learn how to listen, address my issues, and build the kind of life i want. Problematic use of drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc. is, let’s say rampant, with multiples. She deals with cause, rather than effects. When i first started seeing her, she would come to my house, because i couldn’t leave it. I’d have a mickey of something stuffed beside me on the couch, because i’d have needed a couple of nips to even be able to let her in the door, and i knew that after she left i’d have a couple more.

The more work i’ve done in therapy the better it’s gotten. I even stopped therapy for a few years because i thought i was done. When i found out i wasn’t, old behaviours began kicking in, like, i can’t control the face as well as i was, and this body work makes everyone want a drink.
Everyone.

I knew i had to figure out a new way to handle things during this time. I’m not going back to square 1. I know i won’t either, because my problem solving skills are rather fantastic. One of the first things i did is i stopped hiding the problem. My husband and my kids already knew, so be honest. Why have this undercurrent of tenseness for my boys, where i act like it’s not happening and they act like they don’t know that it is? Why make my husband complicit in the lie? These things aren’t healthy and they erode the trust and poison the relationships that i have with them, that i’ve worked so freaking hard to build.

Removing the hiddenness immediately calmed my impulsivity. My sons both accepted the behaviour and said it was okay. They understood, and both relayed to me that they’ve seen nothing but improvements in the way i’ve lived my life since my brain fell apart.

Hm. Maybe there’s something here for me to learn.

I told my BFF, and since the beginning of our friendship (it’s a couple of years old, now), she’s been nothing but supportive. I’ve never lied to her, and as our friendship’s grown and trust has built, i’ve let her in like i have never, ever let a friend in before. I can call her up and say, “I’m either gonna have a drink or 2, or i’m hittin’ the highway,” and she will come babysit me until my husband gets home.* I don’t bother hiding from her, because i know i don’t need to.

I’m seeing a pattern here…

I’m down the rabbit hole, right now. At first, i got drunk and stayed that way for a few days. The therapy i’m doing, plus this pandemic situation the world is in, summarily tossed me down there by the seat of my pants.
Down you go H, no choice.
But my kids kept loving me and telling me it was okay.
And my husband did things that he knows will maintain my connection to him.

Ah. I know where this is going.

So this time, my Angries didn’t come out and get belligerent. My highly sexualised parts didn’t come forward and demand more and more booze, until i was blacked out and became a parade of damaged Bits N’ Pieces that are very low functioning and can be quite troublesome (to put it mildly). In fact, i was able to slow down and even sober up for my therapy the other day. I’d been fine for a few days.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
~Tao Te Ching

I was ready when i first met my therapist. She taught me a great many things and then i left, thinking i had moved on. It was not so. I simply wasn’t ready for the next lesson. I humbly returned when i realised the truth, and i’ve been learning ever since. These lessons are more painful than the previous ones, and yet, tired as i am, i see myself listening more readily and learning faster. Now it’s more like, When the student is ready, the lesson will come.

Two weeks ago i connected to my therapist in a way i’ve never connected to another human being ever. I shared grief and pain with her, not with words, but with sounds of suffering that i’ve kept buried deep, deep down inside me, at my most broken place. And i let her hold me through it – something i have never allowed before, in the dozen or more years we’ve been working together to help me.

CONNECTION. A mother’s love in her arms around me, in her voice as she soothed me, in her tears as she cried for me.

I strongly suspect that the other day on the phone with her, i learned my most important lesson yet. I told her that shame is my driving emotion. The one that controls me at every step. Every thought, every action is somewhat shame-driven. She responded that shame isn’t bad; shame is just an emotion, a feeling. She said it’s the body’s response to the human need for connection to another human.
I believe i was ready for this lesson.

Yesterday, i was chatting with my husband after supper, and it just came up out of me. I said, “I think shame is the reason i drink – the reason we all drink.** I think what i really want is to be connected to myself, to be alive so that i can truly connect to another person. To you, to our children, to my friends… ”

I was ashamed to want connection, too. The messages that i internalised as a child were that i was filthy and disgusting and not worthy.
But all the work i’ve done has been slowly taking down this deadly razor-wire that my mother and my upbringing built around me.
It’s going to take more work, but i’m going to listen to what shame is trying to tell me, and i’m going to keep disarming the landmines around me. I will be fully alive and interactive with other human beings. I will be living.

As for the booze, i don’t know. It’s just a symptom, as destructive as it can be, and i live with multiplicity, which means i cannot (at least as of yet) always control what i’m going to do. And that’s okay, today. Sometimes i drink to cope. But it’s nothing at all like it was, and i believe with my whole heart, that it’s possible that someday it won’t be a problem at all. Today i’m neither hungover, nor am i drunk. Tomorrow may be something different.

But i’ll handle it.

I have no wise pronouncements to make on addictive behaviours. I have no solutions save the one i’m working out for myself. I won’t be bashing any of the other ways to handle such issues, because i don’t find it helpful or productive. This is me, and my way only. I share for my own continued healing and growth, but also to maybe give others hope that they can find their own way, too.

Just hang on. It’s the place where i started all this, and it’s where i return as often as needed.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*For those who are new to my blog, i run when i’m stressed or triggered. We live on a farm, and i’ll hit the highway and hitchhike into the city, where i am in immediate danger due to switching. I haven’t hitchhiked in a few years now, but i’ll still angry walk for many kilometres, in any weather, and have been in fairly desperate need of rescue a few times, just due to that.

**We means me and all my parts. My system.