Fallow Fields In Winter

WARNING: This contains references to childhood sexual abuse and trauma.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow…

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

~ Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man

This new year’s resolve to “write through the bad”, has been okay. (Good sounds better, but i’m not writing songs here, i’m emoting, dang it!) It doesn’t come naturally – i want to hide the unpleasantness and the uncomfortability until it’s passed, then turn a less passionate eye back upon it and create something easier to consume. To season it with the wisdom and hope of seeing clearly now, the rain is gone. A spoonful of sugar.
But this pushing through and sharing my struggles when i’m in the thick of it, is a vital part of what i wanted to do here, with this blog. And after more than a year of cutting myself some slack because it’s really scary and hard and what if it fails and i just look pathetic? it was high time to bite the bullet.

I lost a treasured friendship years ago, where her parting shot was to call me “disingenuous”. It was during the most chaotic time of my life, mentally speaking. I was learning what it meant to be a multiple, and getting to know my Bits N’ Pieces, while also in the grip of a powerful mania. I was in and out of hospital, i was barfing up the details of my childhood to a small group of people, including her, and i was switching and sliding around in the face on the daily. I was a bloomin’ shitshow. She broke up with me via private message, and it was like a shelf of scree peppering down and pelting the crap out of me as i’m climbing a mountain. Our friendship was intimate, on a level i’d not had with anyone else, and rejection is perhaps the core issue of my life. I slid hard after that. To be fair, that was happening anyway, but her completely unexpected and not a little vicious severing of our relationship certainly sped up my descent.

Oh, i knew how hard it was to believe in multiplicity. It seems ridiculous to begin with, and its portrayal in books, television, and movies has done it no favours. It’s weird and silly and awkward and cringy, and some of the best known examples of it have been soundly debunked. Take that, wrap it in my childhood programming that taught me to hide it from everyone including myself, and you have why i ran from the diagnosis until my early 30s. Hell, in my quest for mental health and happiness, i’ve met a lot of multiples, and i couldn’t stand being around them, either. Disingenuous fits them all quite aptly.

Well.
I just found another level of forgiveness for her. Which she’s never asked for and may not be necessary. I mean, i’m going to guess, based on knowing her as well as she let me, that it wasn’t easy for her to come to that decision, but she did what she thought she had to do. Nevertheless, there it is – forgiveness. I feel it for her, so she has it. We’ve not had any contact since that awful email, but the aether that my brain floats around in burns hotter and shines brighter, illuminating more spaces and warming more faces.

Writing through the bad, i’m tellin’ ya.

To continue though, that painful loss with its attendant accusation stayed with me. Part of the reason i only (well, mostly) wrote after my internal storms was because of this. By writing after, i was able to curate the information i shared, editing out the kookier bits. I’d feed my readers a familiar stew: veg, gravy, salt and pepper, and cubes of recognisable meats. No misshapen bits of offal floating around, which, although they’ve been slow cooked to tenderness and skillfully seasoned, taste foreign and smell slightly funky, and are otherwise off-putting to the uninitiated palate.

Still trying so hard to be liked, to stay safe.
Don’t hurt me, don’t leave me.

The time for that is ending, or why else have i worked this bloody hard?
I’m learning more and more about who i am. As i plod along and work at this bit of trouble, and bag up that pile of shit, and clean the sludge off this window, i’m taking shape. This is me – put it there. That is not me – punt it.
To know myself is my great adventure and the greatest gift i have ever received. That it is i who gave it makes it priceless. That it is only i who had it to give, makes me glorious.

And with that wonderfully flourishy wordpaint as background, it’s time to decorate it with some gloomy little clouds and some scarecrow-lookin’ trees.
A barren landscape.

The few times i’ve spoken of how broken i am, it’s made everyone uncomfortable. People hasten to assure me that i can be healed. The way that they say it sounds like what they mean is “put back to rights”. I’ve stopped bringing it up, for the most part, because i can see how it touches on something deep and private and in need of protection inside them. That i’ve been destroyed on a level that can never be made right, seems to make people break out in a psychic sweat, like it threatens their inner sense of security or their worldview. I don’t quite know what it is, but i trigger something. Even my therapist pushes back at it, suggesting we use another word. Not broken, she says, “disregulated”. I’m willing to concede that’s part of it, and also that she definitely knows more about multiplicity and the healing process than i, but one thing i’ll always know better than she will, is me. And to me, some of that push back is just putting lipstick on a pig.

It tries to steal a little bit of the truth from me, and although the intentions have some good in them, they cannot have even a tiny bit of it. Not for me, not for my system, and certainly not for the people making these claims. I’ve fought too hard and bled too much to give even a smidge of this terrible truth. I won’t dull the edge of its blade, i won’t blur the colour of its blood, and i won’t move one single stone to make the mountain weigh any less.
What was done to me was monstrous and horrid, and the price i paid was destruction.

Before today i have never written or talked about how vast are my wastelands, but today i feel full of medieval stories with valiant knights and darksided princesses. I’m Histrionica Butterfly, full of shit and poetry, and shitty poetry, and the icy cold wind that blows through me sweeps over a place inside me that is empty and dead, that feels nothing and cannot love.

**One more warning: This may be bleak and ugly to read. Be as sure as you can that you’re okay/safe to read it before continuing.**

The abuse in my life began before i could speak. There is enough evidence for me to confirm my feelings and my system’s claims that it began almost from birth. One night, while in the middle of the natural disaster that was 2006-2015, i dreamed of a baby. All the people that live in my brain with me were there, standing around her in a little bassinet. It was the prettiest baby pink froth of frilly lace and tulle that a child’s mind can conjure. They parted as i approached, heavy-legged and leaden-bellied.  I stepped up, peered in and there she was, but she wasn’t pretty and pink like her bedding, she was pallid, with a hint of blue. There was no warmth, no rise and fall.
She’s the first, they said, And she’s dead.

It was years before i told anyone (i think) and i’ve only told my husband (i think), that the first person i was, my birth-me, is dead. I say “think” because those years are foggier than most, and even now, when i speak of these matters, things are generally hazy and the potential for sliding around is great. I do remember well though, that he rejected it quickly – threw it away like a hot potato. I could see it distressed him to think so, even to think that i thought so.
I let him convince me i was wrong and i didn’t bring it up again.

Please understand that when i use words like “claim”, “believe” and “know”, i’m not using them in a scientific context. This stuff is barely science. My psychiatrist once said psychology is such a soft science one could call it squishy. What i’m doing is decidedly not science, and nebulous as fuck. It’s cerebrally located, manifesting nowhere, Matrix-level, fantastical fancy that blinks in and out, existing ephemerally, as i construct a framework upon which i can build my understanding of myself. A mental map and a family tree/genealogy of my system.

To find my baseline. To achieve homeostasis.
But as i gather information and my framework gathers form upon it, there’s a deadspace – an empty spot where nothing grows.

I’m rarely able to build intimate relationships.
I can get to a point where i’m close with a person, but there is a step i seem unable to take. I don’t quite know what it is, but former friends have been able to feel and/or identify it in me, and have walked away.  I know this because they’ve told me as much. There is a wall, a door, a blank spot, a NOPE sign. On rare occasion i’ve developed deep friendships, but i’ve sabotaged them all, eventually. I’ve driven everyone away, except my husband and children, and my husband is just pure anomaly, because i’ve pushed him harder than anyone.

My children are a special case. The things i so needed to do for myself that i could not, i was able to do for them first. To protect, to champion, to trust, to stay, to love. They confirmed that my mother was evil, and that i am not.

Touch is a minefield for me. I like it and i want it, but rarely and only from certain people. It’s a tricky business because touch is something we need from birth, it’s essential to proper development, to feed and nurture a healthy psyche and self image. So while i was held and fed, i was also physically and sexually assaulted.

How does a preverbal mind, one that has no concept of self, process that?

A brand new mind can’t, it isn’t developed enough, so the brain cuts the connections between sensation and emotion and thought. If disconnection happens often, and/or for long enough, these detached, untethered bits can develop a kind of rudimentary system of their own, a sophistication not unlike a personality. A thought, an emotion, a need, floating around without context or connection for enough time that it begins to become its own person.

This is how the endless push and pull between come-closer-don’t-leave-me and stay-away-don’t-hurt-me began. Before self-awareness. Before speech. Before i could even walk, the instinct to withdraw from pain had been quashed. I didn’t run away because i didn’t know that i should. I’d already built pain takers and fear dampeners and sick little bits that allied themselves with my abusers.
Bad girl. Be a good girl.

I don’t know when i put that baby away in that morbid, cartoonish bed and built that funereal viewing room, but i started dreaming about them once i accepted that i was a multiple. I have some very specific themes and motifs in my dream life. Bugs, streets in suburbia, getting lost in a maze, stealing, eating, abandonment by groups; there’s more. Getting to know my system produced new dreams, and they’re not so much disturbing as they are exhausting. I’m in a house, and i’m caring for children. The size and condition of the house varies, as does whose children they are and who else lives there, but it always devolves into chaos. The children become disobedient, or they disappear, or they become filthy or sick, and the house becomes more and more cluttered and dirty, and i’m exasperated by the children and ashamed of the mess…
And there is always that room with the baby in it.

I rarely go into the room, i mean, i can count the number of times on one hand and have fingers left over. Also, i regularly forget that the baby and the room are a part of the dream, but whenever i remember, i suddenly know she’s in all of them. She’s never alone – there’s always someone with her, watching over her. And sometimes the thing watching over her is the faceless darkness that is always in all of my dreams, sometimes pursuing me, mostly just there. Sometimes it’s content with hovering at the edge of the dream, but sometimes it makes a more insistent appearance, demanding my dream-conscious acknowledgment that it’s there. I’ve become rather adept at waking myself when it does.
I wonder how it feels about that.

This is hard for me, and my brain keeps wanting to cloud it all over, so words are echoing, and i’m getting tired, and it tries to tempt me with squirrels and shiny things, like sound, light, movement. I’m frustrated, verging on pissed off, so let me sum up:

I have a dead baby and an evil stalker.

There is a piece of me that is dead forever and can’t be resurrected. And that formless, terrible thing that is everywhere and always inside me fills me with dread. It sends out a constant simmering disquiet that covers a space inside me like a fog rolling over winter-fallow.

The work i’ve done and the person i’m currently working with have convinced me that a level of healing and health that i’d not thought possible, is in fact likely, as long as i continue onward in the spirit of dogged dedication that i have been. But i know absolutely that there is a place, a spot, a space, where a living thing will never grow, and a dear, tiny being that will never again draw breath.

I have more to say about this, and it’s not bleak. This part of me that vexes others so much, is integral to how beautiful and amazing i am.
Take care of yourself. Hang in there. Get help. Keep trying. Rest until you can try again. Don’t give up. I care and i want you to make it – so much so that i hang my weird naked ass out here for everyone to see.

~H~

Unique Up On It*

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine made a comment on a blog post regarding my willingness to know myself, and all the hard work i’ve put in to doing so. It relates to some stuff that’s been sloshing around in my brain, so i thought i’d write a bit about it.

My mother was intensely interested in psychology. I think she may have genuinely been seeking help for herself in the beginning, but by the time i was ready to attend school, it was more of a weapon than anything else. She jumped on every bandwagon, embraced every fad, and swallowed every line of pop psychology she could find. There were therapists i saw for individual and family counselling during the day, that would be involved in our nighttime activities, and then there was the odd social worker who would come to school to speak with me. The former were criminals, and the latter merely useless, but they both cemented a distrust of all involved in psychology – a science so soft one could call it “mushy”.

I knew something was wrong with me but i never knew what. My religion taught me that i was a hopeless sinner in need of salvation, which i pursued generally, sometimes even tirelessly. (I was gonna say single-mindedly, but that doesn’t quite fit. Heh.) My family either reinforced religion, ignored the problem, or contributed to it. This left mental health professionals, from whom i regularly sought answers, despite my wariness and stunning lack of success with them.

It wasn’t all for naught. As i have with many things, i took what i liked and left the rest – like the religions from which i took that advice. Over decades i’ve amassed a decent amount of knowledge on the subject of the functions of my mind with respect to my behaviour within a given context. You’re not going to hear a bunch of current buzz words coming from me. I’m not a spiritual person, but neither am i only about that which is tangible and provable. Every day my understanding that i am a truly unique individual, deepens. I think you are too, although that understanding is more exoteric. What i know about myself is more abstruse.

There endeth my grandiloquence.

I draw from this font of knowledge every day. The more i know myself the better able i am to make good decisions and enjoy positive outcomes.
Take for instance, my lifelong, contentious relationship with food. From chubby at 8, to super-morbidly obese at 35, to thin at 38, to Bipolar Disorder packing 80lbs back on… I’ve been through it all with food. Abuse and neglect warped my mental and physical connection with food. Being intermittently starved, and frequently lured, rewarded, and placated with food, has done an incredible amount of damage in my life.

You’ve heard the stories before. Some of those stories may be like your own.
Yeah, i eventually tried all the diets. It was in later years though, not really ever as a child. Regularly not having food in the house made the thought of dieting anathema.
School was excruciating. The children were unrelentingly vicious until the latter half of grade nine, when i switched to a half decent school where only about half of the boys and a few of the girls were truly heinous. I cried myself to sleep as so many of us fat kids have done. I sobbed out desperate prayers to the god i was raised with, begging him to make me thin. I mostly thought my school troubles were due to my weight, i only came to realise through years of the kind of self-study that i’m right now referring to, that it was sosoSO much deeper than that. I look back now and i see a chubby girl who was quiet, another who had money, one may have been wide, but she was very, very short, and one or more of them came from families whose names everyone knew and respected. None of them got it as bad as i did.
I’m telling you, i’m a very nice person, but there are some people from those last 2 schools i attended that i would be hard-pressed not to punch right in their smug faces and gouge out those glittering eyes filled with cruel glee. I may be odd, honey, but you’re still a shitty human being.

Sorry for the digression – i don’t know if that school stuff will ever go away.
So, back to food and fat then.
And diets.
Oh my eff-you-see-kay, did i ever try ’em. All of ’em. The late-night infomercial scammers, the impossibly petite and perfect, smiley Buffybots, and the anti-science pitchers of expensive woo solutions… All of ’em.
Exercise is the answer.
Eliminating the sugarcarbglutenfat is the answer.
Eating like a caveman. Or a coeliac. Or a diabetic. Or a fat man on the fasttrack to a massive heart attack. Or a runway model. Or a toot widdow bunny wabbit.
I’ve done most of it, and had similar results to those of you who’ve also done it.
PFFT.

You know how i said i take what i like and leave the rest? Well, here’s something i picked up from one of those places and put right back on the shelf for someone else.
“Terminal uniqueness”.
See now, that just doesn’t work for me. The implication is that the answer is already out there, you’re just not working the solution correctly. Or hard enough. Or long enough. Or honestly enough. Or… Eff you in the eh with a dee.

It’s not to say that that concept is never helpful for anyone.
I’m saying it was not helpful for me in this particular aspect of my life. (Honestly, it wasn’t particularly helpful for me in any area, but i’m trying not to do that digressing thingy i did a while back there.)

I AM unique, and if one bears in mind that i will one day die – terminally so.
I wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to be like other people when i wasn’t. To fit in when i couldn’t. To belong to groups i didn’t want to be a part of, and be liked by people i didn’t care for.
For years i ran away from a diagnosis that would change my life, forever and for the better, because i thought being different was bad and being alone was bad. Neither of those things is either always the truth, or always a lie.
Not for any of us.

And so none of those diets worked. For all the reasons that anyone who struggles already knows, but also for this reason that i am now telling you – because i AM terminally unique.
The only “diet” that will ever have a healthy and long term affect/effect on me is one that is tailored specifically for me. It will only fit me. It will not fit you or anyone else.

I now understand that i’m the only one that can craft the perfect solution. And between all the knowledge i have acquired over the years about dieting and myself -you throw in a registered dietician (the ONLY people i think should be trusted regarding the science of nutrition)- and i am set. I am set for life! (That’s the title of some diet book i read once, i think. HEH.)

I will give you one example of how this works for me, and then i shall stop jabbering at you for the day.
I read a very popular diet book once. Well, actually i bought it and all the stuff that came along with the book, and i read the book itself several times. The first thing this doctor, author, diet guru did was tell me that i must go through my entire house and remove foods that he deemed not healthy, or dangerous to my eating plan, or however he put it. (That book is no longer in my house, so i can’t/won’t refer to it for accuracy.)

Removing foods from my house is a bad idea for me. Removing foods that some call treats or junk is an exceedingly bad idea for me.
I was starved growing up. There was regularly not enough food in my house. And worse.
My mother ate while i starved. She would hide sweet and salty treats from me, and often cook for herself after she’d sent me to bed. She kept money aside to support her junk food habit, that should have been spent on clothing for me, or school supplies and fun activities. She would serve me spoiled food. I’d be starving and i’d scrounge food from the garbage, from other people’s homes. I stole other kid’s lunches or dug them out of the trash.

To this day, when i get low on something, or my fridge doesn’t look full or my cupboards are emptying out, i get nervous and anxious. I will leave a smidgen or a dollop of something in a box or a jar until i can get to the store to buy more – because being completely out of something can cause an anxiety attack.
And here’s the other thing, the barer my larder, the hungrier i get. When my kitchen is full of food, i don’t graze as much, and i snack less frequently. And when the sweet and salty snack foods are around i don’t experience an overpowering craving for them. Those things don’t call to me when they’re on my shelf, but when they’re not there, the 7-Eleven is a siren song.

So that extremely successful dude that’s sold millions of diet advice books starts out with a bad idea for me, and goes downhill from there.
Factor in all that science can and has debunked as far as diet fads and crazes, and i can toss out almost all the other books and videos and videotapes and CDs and equipment that i’ve bought over the years (decades).
Factor in that i’ve had weight loss surgery.
Factor in my Peanut Gallery.

I know how to eat now, to be healthy, and to lose some weight. I’m on my way down, very slowly and mostly surely, and i’m fairly certain that, barring mental/physical issues i may face in the future and the resultant medications – it’s staying off for good. I’m not even excited. I just know it’s a pretty safe bet.

So yeah, to clumsily bring it all back around to my friend’s comment on my blog from the other day.
I’ve been thinking about how none of what i now currently enjoy along the lines of daily functionality and enjoyment of life might just not be possible at this level if i didn’t know myself as well as i do today. (That’s a helluva sentence; i hope it made sense.)

To know myself, to know who i am, what i think, and why i think it, is without question, the best thing that i have ever done, or will continue to do. It makes me better, happier, and more productive in every way.

Have as good a day as you’re able. I’ll do the same.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*From a favourite old joke:
Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit?

A: Unique up on it.

Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?

A: Tame way.