Sometimes I’m Just Wrong

As people with a history like mine often do, i’ve had severe dental phobia most of my life. To have to hang my mouth open and have someone poking around in there, sometimes causing me pain, can be a brutal trigger. As a child, my mother stopped caring about my dental health around the time she was committed; i was in grade one. The only time she’d bring me in was for an emergency, which happened occasionally. I wasn’t much for brushing, which resulted in a few abscesses and a couple of pulled teeth.

Once on my own i just dodged the dentist. I finally paid attention when i found an excellent family physician during my pregnancy with my second child. She urged me to attend to my teeth, which were becoming problematic.
I required many appointments to get my teeth cleaned and a number of fillings followed. Neither the hygienist nor the dentist seemed to realise or care about my severe anxiety, and i was shamed and lectured every visit, guaranteeing more avoidant behaviour. It wasn’t until i was well into therapy with my current counsellor that i finally dealt with my fear head-on.

I found a nice lady dentist who’d been doing it for decades, and i went to talk to her. No cleaning, just x-rays, and a chat about what i was looking at to get my teeth shipshape. I told her of my phobia. (No, really? Like my huge, watering eyes and clenched fists didn’t already announce it.) I indicated as delicately as i could that it was trauma-based. She was immediately receptive, kind and gentle in her response, and assured me that i wasn’t her only patient with these issues. She said she’d work with me, to help me overcome my anxiety as much as possible (at my pace), and to attain and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

I know a fair number of people who use sedation dentistry to handle this issue, but i wanted to at least try to do it without drugs of any kind. I prepared as best i could; going over what was going to happen in my head, looking at pictures i’d taken of the dentist’s office, and the chair that i’d be sitting in, the ceiling that i’d be looking at (they have tellies up there – how smart is that?), i thought of how i feel in a dentist’s chair, and went over the different methods i could use to cope:

– focused breathing,
– body mindfulness,
– reminding myself that the intensity of the feelings are a response to trauma that’s no longer happening,
– stopping the hygienist and asking for a break,
– stopping the hygienist and talking briefly about the feelings,
– stopping the hygienist and rescheduling,
– using an anti-anxiety med beforehand,
– sedation dentistry,
– maintain dental health as best i can on my own, do more therapy around the issue, and try again at a later date.

I was stiff as a board the first time i sat for a cleaning; eyes as big as saucers, hands and feet clenched hard enough to cramp. The hygienist had a soft, soothing voice, and she calmed my jangled nerves with banter about her children, a recent move, a holiday. Her demeanor was quiet and kind, and i knew she wasn’t going to hurt me. Cleaning my teeth properly would take a few visits, they’d already told me, but i never sensed any disapproval from her, and there was never the slightest hint of a tsk or a tut-tut in her voice.

Then it’s time for my dentist to do some fillings, some caps, and even a root canal, to preserve my teeth for as long as possible. Her voice is also soft (i think dentists may cultivate this voice – also smart) but her vibe is jovial, even goofy. Her assistant is sarcastic, with a deadpan delivery, and between the 2 of them, they provide a great service and a show besides, which distracted and delighted me so much that i came to look forward to seeing them. Not even kidding.

I settled in to regular maintenance, and then the recession hit. We had to let go of our dental insurance, and i didn’t want to stress our already squeaky budget, when i knew my teeth were in good shape, and i was now diligent and conscientious with care. We still had a son at home who required extensive orthodontic work, and so i stopped going for a couple of years. When our financial situation improved,  i went back, thinking there’d be no problem.

Oh, but there was.

I missed a number of appointments, for which i provided lame excuses, and i’d call after and reschedule with a self-deprecating chuckle. Six months later i did the same thing, i missed my first appointment and called, saying it had totally slipped my mind and i’d be there for sure next time. The receptionist fixed another time with me, but i noted something in her voice before we hung up – a hesitancy. I felt uneasy.

She called me mid-morning the next day.
She told me that they wanted very much to continue providing me with dental care, but in order for that to happen they were going to require the cost of the appointment up front. She explained that my dentist couldn’t continue losing money when i didn’t show up, that it wasn’t fair for her or anyone.
I bristled. Feelings flooded my body, and i reacted with offense.

“This feels like i’m being punished for being mentally ill,” i said.
“I’m going to have to discuss this with my husband and i’ll get back to you,” i said.

To my credit, before the end of the phone call, i knew she had me dead to rights. But shame is a massive trigger, and i was dissociated and edgy for the rest of the day. It took me a while to bring it up with my husband, but not too long, and he understood right away. I called the receptionist back within a day or 2, and told her i knew they had to do what they were doing. And then i paid them.

I was anxious about the cleaning. I thought about why. It wasn’t just being embarrassed – it was a few things. There’d been a break in my association with them, one where i wasn’t in therapy, and i hadn’t had to deal with some of the triggers that dentistry touches on. I was now back in therapy, and learning to stay in my body during times when i feel emotions and/or physical sensations that i don’t want to feel. I understood why i was dodging. I knew i was setting myself up to miss my dates with my dentist.
I was trying to avoid all the feelings.

I showed up on time, and prepared. I knew i was going to feel awkward and embarrassed, which was normal and appropriate to feel, because i’d done them wrong. I hadn’t meant to, and i knew that. I knew they would all be gracious and kind, as they had always been, and they were. When the cleaning was done, my dentist was there at reception, and she gently asked me, “Do you understand that we had to do what we did?”

I told her that i did, and i told them all that i was sorry. I told them that it hadn’t occurred to me that i was costing her money, or inconveniencing anyone – but it should have, and i was ashamed about it.

She said, “You know, we just wouldn’t have had you back if we didn’t like you so much, eh?” And i could see that that was true.

I could also see that, while i’d fucked up, i’d also done some things right.

I’d been honest about my mental illness and my fears and anxieties from the jump.
I’d carefully built relationship with them, so much so that when i started behaving poorly, they tolerated that behaviour for as long as they could – perhaps longer than they should have done, and only for my benefit.
And when they finally called me out, i accepted responsibility for my actions.
Yes, for the briefest of moments -the space of a phone call- i reacted badly, but i knew almost immediately that i was in the wrong, and why, and that i could and would put it right and it was going to be okay.

I got caught doing something shitty, and i reacted by trying to avoid taking the blame. To assuage my chagrin by haughtily providing an excuse.

I’m not bad – i’m sick!

While that is true in a way, it’s neither appropriate nor is it helpful to apply that in this instance. After i hung up the phone i felt it right away – i was convicted in my heart by a jury of me. I’ve identified myself to these people as someone who lives with serious, multiple diagnosis mental illness. I’ve done so first for my benefit, but also for others like me. I want to bring awareness and exposure to those around us, in service to us and apart from that, who have little or no experience with us (or knowledge that they’re having such – because they certainly are, am i right?), and by so doing, help pave a way for fellow neuroatypicals and those living with mental illness to do the same. To see that it can be done, and perhaps they might do it, too.

I feel the weight of that responsibility. It’s a good weight, one i’ve willingly and purposefully shouldered, and it’s a right thing and a steadying force in my life. It gives meaning and provides balance and even serendipity. I would not so inadequately, so boorishly represent a community that has my love so easily, and needs help and understanding so desperately.

The love and life that i’ve found there made my path clear, and set my shoulders squarely towards it.
Yes, part of the reason why i behaved the way i did was the way i was raised and the way my brain responded to try and save me, to help me cope and to perhaps spare me some of the worst of it, that i might survive. And survive i did – and in these last years, even more and better.
Yes, there are reasons -childhood causations- for my behaviour, but in the end, today, right now, at this moment, i am as free and autonomous and aware as i can possibly be, and i am happy and grateful and relieved indeed, to be solely responsible for my choices and actions.

And sometimes i’m just wrong. And i was.
I accepted the consequences, which were fair, and no one abused me and i didn’t die.

I can hardly wait to screw up again.
Heh.

Friendship

I’ve developed a close friendship for the first time in many years. The kind of friend i check in with most days and hang out with every week.
She’s seen me switched, and had to deal with some of my shenanigans. It’s horribly embarrassing to me, but it’s also been good. She hasn’t walked away, and she hasn’t hurt me. I’ve lost some treasured friendships to bipolar disorder and multiplicity, and the way i coped was by keeping people at arm’s length, and hermitting in my Little Crooked House. I reached out to her for more friendship because i thought the cavalcade of crazy was pretty much over. Blargh.
She’s handled it better than anyone has, ever. Having a friend who accepts me exactly as i am is great, and having a friend who doesn’t treat me any differently after she’s seen my particular brand of cuckoo has been relaxing and healing and freeing. I’ve experienced the silent reaction (pretending the conversation never happened), the bullshit reaction (you are lying, that isn’t real), and the sideshow freak reaction (wow, how many alters do you have, what are their names, can i talk to one, what happened to make you that way).* Her reaction is relatively new. It’s a bit meh, and it’s nice.

Friendship has been a loaded issue my whole life. I’ve wanted connection, but the first half of my life i was running blind, and after that i pulled myself out of the race.
I’ve always been able to draw people in, i can make friends quickly and easily when i’m settled inside. Where i have trouble is building something deep and hanging on long term.

For the years since i accepted my diagnosis and began working on how to live with multiplicity, i’ve shouldered the blame for all my failed relationships.
I’m not easy to get to know.
It’s hard to get close to me.
I can be unreliable.
I’ve disappeared for weeks, even months, with no contact.
I can be histrionic and chaotic.
I can be emotionally unavailable, cold even.
I can be so focused on my own stuff, that i’m clueless about anyone else’s problems.

That’s not so much the case anymore, but back when i had a number of dear friends, those descriptors fit me rather well. I needed to know myself better in order to be able to function more effectively, and i studied it all, good, bad, or indifferent. I looked under every rock i found. It’s a tricky bit of business, trying to find the balance between being understandably broken because of how i was raised, and taking responsibility for the wreckage of my life. I wasn’t much of a success at life, beyond surviving. Don’t misunderstand me though, this is a balance thing, as i stated. I don’t believe in miracles, but the fact that i lived through my childhood and managed not to be a shitty human is as close to one as i’ve ever seen. I’m amazing, and i know it. I should either be far less functional and barely living, or a high-functioning, horrible person. But i’m not. I’m a likable, lovable woman who’s getting a little bit more awesome every day.

What i’m talking about here is an appropriate, adult level of personal responsibility.
And when it came to all the people i’ve lost, i took all the blame. I truly thought it was mine.

Recently, my new close girlfriend told me she’d been reading my blog, and bluntly stated that i’m too hard on myself. A couple of days later, someone who doesn’t know me but reads my blog offered up some similar commentary. I immediately bristled with my friend, but i noticed that i did, and so i went home and thought about it. By the time i received the second comment, i was more receptive, and more still when an online friend who’s known me for 15+yrs shared some lovely thoughts she had about my last piece. She also implied that i’m a harsh critic of my own work.

I’ve been pondering this for a week or 2 now, and i think it’s a valid criticism. I’m too critical of myself. (There’s a joke in there somewhere, but my current headache won’t let me find it. Pfft.) This is difficult for me to accept, as it runs contrary to my upbringing. I was the family scapegoat. I was bad, i was wrong, and i screwed it all up. My every move was scrutinised, and regularly and soundly criticised. I never met my mother’s expectations, nothing i did was good enough. There is constant chatter in my head from my Peanut Gallery, and someone is always picking at me: how i look, how i talk, how i cook, how i clean, how i write, how i mother, wife, friend… They sound like my mom.

I want to deal with this inner critic issue, but i have enough on my plate already. I do counter the voices quite often when the subject is how i look.

System: You look ridiculous in that outfit.
Me: I feel pretty, so it’s staying on.

I realise now that i don’t deal with the other stuff, though. I’ll try countering those voices where and when i can, but i won’t be pushing too hard right now. However, i do want to do one thing, it’s been percolating in my brain since that day in the car with my friend.

It’s not all my fault that i’ve lost the friends i’ve lost. Some of them naturally faded away, but a few were toxic to me in one way or another. The truth is they were shitty to me, and did me a favour by leaving. I was taught loyalty is all, and crappy treatment is to be expected. I didn’t see the behaviours until they were long gone, nevertheless i still saw the blame as mine.

But they used me, and i just loved them the best way i knew how, and when they weren’t getting enough from me to tolerate how sick i was getting, they left. I desperately needed help, and they left.

So there, i said it. I have a bowling ball in my belly and i feel like puking, but it’s out there. I may have sucked, but they also sucked.

There is my bit of growth for the day.
I’m not the bad guy, i’m the good guy. I also think i might be a pretty decent friend. It’s their loss, and they can kiss my pale, fallen ass.
Heh.

*I don’t particularly have a problem with any of these reactions. If it’s too much or you just don’t have the spoons to deal with my stuff, that’s okay, we can pretend i never said anything. I’m not lying, it is real, but i don’t blame you for thinking it’s a load of crap. I thought the same thing for most of my life. It’s cool to be curious, too. Feel free to ask me anything you’d like, just be aware that i might choose not to answer; some things i don’t share.

Let Reality Be Reality

Those who know me might be very confused as to why someone with my personality would have a problem accepting a diagnosis of dissociation.
After all, i do make a rather strong impression. That i’ve changed significantly through study and hard work notwithstanding, people generally remember meeting me. More than that, they probably also have a fairly good idea whether they like me or they don’t; i’m that sort of person. I’m drawn to extremes, i feel things intensely, i have strong opinions, and i don’t mind telling you about them – even though you may not have asked. Heh.

Did you notice the name i use for my site? Histrionica is a name i made up (which i’ve since learned is the name of a beetle) years ago when i joined a scifi fan page. I thought it hilariously appropriate because i can be a tad histrionic upon occasion. I added an “a” to make it sound feminine, and voila!

I revelled in drama growing up. I joined choirs and drama groups every place we lived. I joined every club and after school activity i could in order to get out of the house as much as possible. (Not after school SCHOOL activities, though. School was as hellish as home was, sometimes.) I sang and i acted and i was very, very good. Gifted, by all accounts by all the directors with whom i ever worked. Full of potential and promise. I could sing anything, play anyone convincingly. I could affect any accent you wished, i only had to listen to it for a bit and i could do it. I could ape anyone. I could do you, for anyone who knew you, and they’d know it was you.

And then there was school… UGH. Well, there’s no sense in sugarcoating shit at this stage of the game, so i won’t.

I lied. I lied a LOT. I lied about anything, to anyone, for any reason. For no reason.
It started at home. If i did something wrong, i got hit. I didn’t want to get hit, so i would deny i did the wrong thing, even if i had done it. Pretty typical kid behaviour, except the abuse i was living with exacerbated the problem. Even when i hadn’t done anything wrong, i was consistently treated as if i had. I was the receptacle for all my parent’s unwanted emotions. I grew up believing there was something terribly wrong with me – that i was bad and deserving of punishment. That doesn’t mean i didn’t still try to avoid it.

My first defense was always denial.
Then i’d tell a story about why i couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t do the thing of which i was accused, that i had actually done.

This carried itself into my school performance. I didn’t want to get into trouble, so i would lie. There was so much tumult at home that i often wouldn’t complete my homework, and when the teacher would ask me about it, i’d lie. And i was so strange in my appearance (read: poor and unkempt) and odd in my behaviour, that i would invent grand and fantastical stories as to why. I mean, i knew i was different, if for no other reason than my fellow students would regularly remind me. Some even questioned me about it – mostly the bullies, but every once in a while, a genuine, concerned query would come from a kinder peer. I’d always lie. Well, i told a bit of truth to a couple of friends in high school, but their lack of response only reaffirmed what i’d learned growing up:

1) We do not speak of these things;

2) It’s not a big deal;

3) You deserve what’s happening to you.

Honestly though, i must have had quite the reputation for telling whoppers, so how were they supposed to know when i was telling the truth? I don’t blame them a bit. The one teacher i disclosed to is another story… He was my favourite teacher and he broke my heart and it hurts to this day.

Sorry… A bit off topic, but still somewhat relevant to what i’m trying to relay.

Finally, i must devote some time to my love of fantasy. Growing up, my ability to lose myself in art: books, movies, television, even music – it saved my life. Both figuratively speaking, and i believe, quite literally as well. I didn’t just read Lord of the Rings – i lived it. I read the books through 3 or 4 times, just to go back and be with my friends and have those adventures again. My imagination is very developed, very adept, very intense. I WAS Alice. I was Pippi Longstocking, i was Marcia Brady, i was Ginger AND Mary Ann. I was Velma, and i was the smart one who solved the mystery. I would come home from a day of teachers ignoring me and children torturing me, and i would be Belinda Carlisle on tour with the Go-Go’s, and i would bump into Harrison Ford or Sting at some Hollywood party, where they would see me and ask me out and we’d fall in love…

I would comfort my poor, hurt feelings for hours sometimes, with only enough time left to take orders from Mom over cooking, cleaning, or kid care, and then to bed. Door closed and light off or i’d get yelled at and/or hit. Next day at school, i’d lie to the teacher about why my homework wasn’t done.

Once i got away from school and home, i didn’t need to lie so much. And so i actually didn’t. Over the years though, the one thing i found i couldn’t quite let go of was my penchant for exaggeration. It was like a lingering imprint or a reflex that lessened with age, but still… For many years, i just couldn’t seem to resist embellishing the truth a little. If i lost 10lbs, i’d tell you 20. If i hadn’t slept a wink last night, i’d tell you not for the last 2 or 3. If i ate an entire pizza to myself and you asked what i’d had for supper, i’d tell you salad and fresh fruit. Okay that last one was an outright lie. I admit i still told those sometimes.

It wasn’t until i learned enough about the effects of abuse that i understood why i was lying and telling fish stories. I believed i wasn’t good enough. I was afraid that deep down inside, i was bad. I was trying to hide it – trying to keep others from finding out. It took years of concerted effort, but that kind of behaviour has been behind me for a long time.

I still lie, but only when necessary, or for reasons of self-care or kindness. If you think honesty is the best policy, or lying is always bad, well… This piece isn’t for that subject, but maybe one day i’ll write a bit about my thoughts in this area, and you can read it and see what you think.

Maybe you’re starting to see where i’m going.
Why i resisted my diagnosis so hard, and for so long.
If you are, maybe you can help me out here, because it’s freaking hard to put into words. Blargh. It’s all buzzing around up there in my brain, but it’s like trying to separate the ingredients once you’ve made soup out of them.
Good luck.

This is a mental illness with more baggage than most. A lot of people don’t even believe it exists. Some people fake it in order to escape the consequences of their bad behaviour, or to get attention. Most people’s only experience of it is through ham-handed tv tropes, or as a literary device, including the (in?)famously debunked novels like “Sybil” and “Michelle Remembers”. It’s an illness chock full of drama and controversy. It invites and elicits very strong opinions.

Once i got away from my mother and her influence, i realised i was an abused child. Once i had a child of my own i knew i needed to deal with it or i couldn’t be the kind of mom i wanted to be. Through doing the work, i realised i was mentally ill, but i didn’t know exactly what was wrong – no diagnosis seemed to fit. And then this diagnosis comes along that fits me perfectly, but it appeals to parts of my nature that i’m trying to change or eliminate altogether. Parts like my propensity for embellishment and my tendency towards histrionics. I was terrified that people were telling me what the sick parts of me wanted to hear. Factor in that out of the dozens of people i’d met claiming to be dissociative, they all seemed to be faking it, save one.

I couldn’t allow myself to accept something because it offered a convenient excuse for all the troubles of my life. And i couldn’t allow myself to believe it just because it was perfect for the artist inside me, or even for the little girl who saved her own life with her mutant power of imagination.

What got me there is what you read on my blog in every single post i make.
I was indoctrinated from birth. I was actively brainwashed.
The greatest, most beautiful, powerful, and incredible thing that happened to me when i got away from my mother, is that i was given the opportunity to think for myself. It was slow going until i found my safe place (my person*), but once i had that i was able to work harder and achieve better results. I wanted to know what i thought and why i thought it. As the bible i once studied required of me, i wanted to have a reason for what i believed. From there i learned to study independently, and i was on my way. I didn’t know that there was a name for what i was doing, but i now know it’s called critical thinking.

I’m not going to share with you my step-by-step examination of who i am and what the diagnosis says dissociatives are. It would be an exercise in people-pleasing on my part, and that is something i try to do only because i want to, not because i’m trying to prove something. Like anyone, i still crave those 4As (attention, acknowledgement, acceptance, affection), but that’s not what this is about. Whether or not you believe in the diagnosis, believe that what i share in this blog is genuinely me. This is who i am and how my brain works.

This is life as me, whatever name you give me or box you put me in. I don’t mind.
I want to help myself and be a better human. I hope that by sharing how i’m helping myself, i can do both.

He thought he was gonna die,
But he didn’t.
She thought she just couldn’t cope,
But she did.
We thought it would be so hard,
But it wasn’t…
It wasn’t easy, though!
~Walk Straight Down the Middle, Kate Bush

Love and Peace As Always,
~H~

*Grey’s Anatomy reference, my not-guilty-at-all pleasure.

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~

Hey You. Yeah, YOU.

Hey You.

It’s been a while since i addressed you directly, but that doesn’t mean that i don’t think about you. I wonder after you just about every day.

I think about you a lot, because when you’re like me, it seems like you’re all alone. It seems like i’m the only crazy person i know. I mean, there are social misfits and weirdos aplenty – but crazies? Once i accepted myself for who i am, i was met with radio silence.

It’s not cool to be cuckoo. You can be weird if you’re a nerd or a geek; a certain amount of social awkwardness is a prerequisite for the label. And if you’re rich or famous or some sort of celebrity or great artist then you can be as off as you want to be… They’ll call you eccentric.

Usually there is someone, though. Someone who gets us, or at least they try to. Or maybe they don’t try and they merely accept that they don’t understand and that’s okay with them. Their lack of understanding is not an impediment to them being in a relationship of some kind with us. There are some out there. Sometimes only one, but often more than we think. Experience has taught me that i just have to get through those tough times when i can’t see. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean there’s no light. I know eventually the light will come. Maybe it’s just the cycle of light and dark, or maybe i’ve pulled down all the shades and just forgotten that i’ve done so. Maybe if i look hard enough i’ll see a dim glow seeping out around the edges…

But those of us who leave a trail of wreckage behind us: hospital stays and rides in police cars and enforced social service watchdogs and destroyed relationships…

You know, those of us who have done things that no one can make poetic.
Those of us who’ve been screwed up in ways not immortalised by some well-loved actor in an Oscar-worthy performance. Those of us who have a stink on us that we can’t shower away. When everyone you know for long enough -whether a minute or a year- knows that you are different. And not in the cool way.
For us, sometimes it is hard to see the light.

I want you to know that i’m thinking about you.

This is a hard time of year to be crazy. There’s family and expectations.
And family and expectations.
If you’re crazy and you’ve made it through any of these blasted holiday-gauntlets then i say Clap yourself on the back my brother/sister, because you are amazing!  This time of year turns solidly sane people into lunatics, so if you’re a whack job like me and still in one piece, congratulations.

And hey, if there’s some wreckage around you, it’s okay. Some broken relationships, some 911 calls, some final notices, some vicious rumours… If you’re still breathing, you’re winning. Even if you’re wearing a sweater with extra long arms that tie up in the back.

I know it’s about to get more intense. More family and more expectations.

I want you to know that you won’t be alone.
I’ll be thinking about you; wondering how you’re doing and if you’re all right.
Even if we’ve never met and i don’t know your name.

I don’t celebrate this time of year. I’m not religious. I’m not spiritual. I’m not going to church, i’m not opening presents, i’m not making obligatory family appearances.
I have no problem with anyone else being any or doing any those things, it’s just not me.

Whether you are or you aren’t doesn’t matter to me. What matters is, if you live with mental illness i want you to know that i’m thinking about you this holiday season. I know how hard it can be, and i just want you to know that you aren’t alone.

I have no step-by-step plan. I’m not selling anything, neither a belief system nor a product. I just want you to know that someone gives a shit about the real you. The you that doesn’t know what the fuck you’re doing, and the you who’s terrified that they’ll find out who you really are, and the you who’s so freaking tired of toeing the line, and the you who doesn’t even know who you are anymore, and the you who has NOTHING left to give, and the you who has never been yourself with another living person, and the you who is afraid all there is is this and all you’ll ever be is who others think you are…

I have been able to create a safe place, with safe people, where i live the life i choose.

Some of it took so much strength and commitment i should get a parade, and some of it was a beautiful fluke.
Regardless, i have this life now and i’ve been thinking about you a LOT. I know how hard this time of year can be, and i want you to know that i’m thinking about you right now.
I don’t have family obligations or company parties or peer group expectations.

I will be thinking about you and wondering if you’re okay and hoping that you’re all right.
So, if you have to be around people that make you feel things you don’t want to feel – i’ll be thinking about you.
If you’re spending the holidays alone and wish you weren’t – i’ll be thinking about you.
If circumstances have made it so you can’t be, do, or give what you’d have wanted to this holiday – i’ll be thinking about you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Hang in there, okay?

Lovelovelove and Peeeeace,

~H~

Under My Dome

This is one of those days where i really, really wish i was normal.

I’m not having that glib toss off comment that people often make about no one being normal, or what the heck is normal anyway. I understand where it comes from, and i know people don’t mean any harm or offense when they make it. And it doesn’t harm me or offend me when it’s made, either. I’m just saying that for today, if one were to make such a comment regarding this post – that might be considered by me to be a little insensitive.

I’m not referring to everyone’s little quirks and oddities. Yes, we all have those. I’m talking about living every single day of your life with a brain that works -in some very significant ways- much differently than most people’s. In ways that slow me down in my daily life, and have even held me back from achieving some things that i’ve wanted to do.

I’ve always had a terribly short attention span. I’ve struggled with concentration. In recent years, with the addition of bipolar disorder, i’ve had an awful time reading. Reading was one of the biggest things that saved my life growing up, and it’s been a slow and exasperating process trying to retrain my brain to read for pleasure again.

My thoughts either race so fast with mania, or process words so slowly with depression and dissociation, that i stopped reading novels. I forced myself to deal with the issue starting with non-fiction. As a person who’d finally broken free of my childhood programming that had taught me not to think for myself or question authority, i was hungry for information. So i started reading a lot of news articles, science articles, political pieces, and learning about philosophy. I’m not entirely sure why it’s been so much easier to read non-fiction, but i suspect it has something to do with fiction triggering my dissociative behaviours because it stimulates my imagination.

I’m trying though. I’ve had to, because i’m currently on a news/social media fast. The last year’s worth of campaigning, leading to the most frightening and disappointing election result in the US in my lifetime, necessitated a break. I’ve got too much going on in my personal life to even begin to process that event. Even typing this little bit about it in my blog is ramping up my anxiety level. And the Peanut Gallery in my head is on hypervigilant alert, meaning social media isn’t a good idea, either. I’m at a high risk for switching, and i can’t ask my online friends to go through that with me. It’s confusing enough for my husband and my children, i can’t imagine how much harder it would be when you don’t live with me, and don’t even have experience with me outside of the internet. (I was gonna say, “in the flesh”, but that sounded a bit dirty. Heh.)

Anyway, i’m trying to read a book i’ve been trying to get through for 2yrs. I’ve read other novels over the last few years, but King novels are especially hard for me, i think because he’s my favourite. I didn’t understand until a few years ago that my experience of imagination is different than most people. My therapist says that i am a superhero, and my mutant power is imagination. I was able to create people and worlds inside my brain in order to escape some of the awful things that happened to me as a child. My brain is a whole different level of creative. Not better than you, but very intense. Like, for those of you around my age, think in Technicolor, with Sensurround! If you’re a more recent arrival on the planet, think over 9,000!

When i found Stephen King novels it changed my life. It was more than just giving me an escape, the fact that they were based in horror helped me stay alive and be more sane. No, really. There were things that happened to me that i never spoke about. As years went by, they became like dreams i had, and as i grew i eventually “forgot” that they were real events and believed instead that they were only dreams. When other young people would talk about their dreams, i would wonder why mine were so strange and terrifying compared to theirs. I think King’s stories made it easier for me to, in due time, accept that there had been true evil in my life, as there is in the world, and that it can be overcome. As if reading about it in well-told stories made what i had lived through a bit more palatable. It was art. Dark, terrible art. It was maybe more romantic/poetic to me, seen through a writer’s eyes. That may not make sense to anyone else, but it does to me. Stephen King helped soften the blow in a way. His stories helped me to acknowledge and accept that my life was a story that he could have written.

For a week i have sat with this massive book in my lap. Forcing myself to read half an hour of this novel every day. It’s laborious and sluggish work. I have echobrain right now, meaning that i hear the sentence i just read bounce around inside my skull over and over, until it gradually fades. This forces me to say the sentence silently in my head as i’m reading it in order to cut down on the echo. Unfortunately, it also sloooows me doooown. I find it demeaning. I know i shouldn’t, but my reading speed and comprehension was something i was always so proud of, and here i am slogging away at a snail’s pace. And when i get frustrated i can always count on a voice or 2 to pipe up in there, which makes concentrating even more difficult.

So this is why i’m whining and wishing i was normal. It goes much deeper and darker than that though. It starts with the once-star-reader-turned-plodding-toiler and ends with oh-for-pity’s-sake-i’m-almost-50-and-i’m-barely-functional.

You thought this was gonna be a bombastic tirade on how you non-crazies have it so good, didn’tcha?

Nah. I’m just PO’ed because all i want is to read my dang story. *sigh*

Who you lookin’ for
What was his name
you can prob’ly find him
at the football game
it’s a small town
you know what i mean
it’s a small town, son
and we all support the team
~James McMurtry

Y’all have yourself as good a day as you can.

Love and Peace,
~H~