Did You Die, Though?

I think most of us want people to like us. It makes navigating life easier if those we encounter find us likeable. Friends are a good thing to have, too. They support us and add quality to our lives (if they don’t, they might not be our friends – but that’s another post). Having friends is more apt to happen when we’re likeable. That’s where we can encounter trouble; finding friends can be tough, sometimes. Not everyone is gonna like us, and that can add stress to the process.
This stuff is obvious to most of us, sure. I share it for understanding and empathy.
Most people want to have friends and care about being liked.
Most people experience at least a little social anxiety now and again.

I’m gonna guess i had some grasp of this from before i have memories. My mother was volatile and abusive. When she was happy i was happy (even when i wasn’t), and when she wasn’t i was miserable. My life still wasn’t free from abuse when she was happy, but the alternative was far worse. My early years involved a number of abusers, and it was my job to make them all happy. And if they weren’t happy, there’d be hell to pay.

I’ve been a people-pleaser all my life. Even though the abuse is decades over, i’ve remained terrified of anyone not liking me. I survived my childhood trauma but i never left it behind. I’ve been like a ghost, haunting their own murder scene.

Once i started making some decent headway with my therapy, i began to see in how many ways my interpersonal relationships were problematic. The other person had all the power and i had none (whether or not they knew that). I hadn’t asked myself if i was getting what i wanted out of these relationships – it hadn’t occurred to me i could. I’d not thought to ask the most basic question of all: Did i even want to be friends with this person?

My social anxiety, and anxiety in general, is on the level where, once i was getting all with the deep and nitty grittiness of therapy, it became the easiest and most conducive thing to become a hermit. The stress added by others was mucking up the gears of my progress. Turns out, underneath all of that people-pleasing, affability and charm, was a die hard introvert who’d never had their peopling batteries properly or fully recharged. It took years to fill me back up.

Along the way i’d dumped my close real life friends (those who hadn’t left already when i was in the grips of crazy), many internet ones, and all extended family members save one. I’d also removed myself from party circles, as it can trigger mental/emotional issues, and is physically unhealthy to boot.
Which bring me to last week, and the reason for this post.

These last months i’ve been functioning mentally and emotionally so well, that i’d increased my focus on my physical health. I’ve needed to shed some weight, and i wanted to be more fit and incorporate more physical activities into my life. To that end, i’ve been walking. I love walking, which makes it readily adoptable into my routine. I live with chronic pain, and walking is one of the least taxing ways to exercise. It’s also giving me more control over my system’s urge to take off walking when i feel afraid, threatened, or overwhelmed. I spend some of my time on the road talking to my Bits N’ Pieces; addressing their needs and allaying their fears. More control – i haz it.

Last week i’d walked into town and was heading to a local park to meet my husband after he got off work for a jaunt or 2 around the lake. On my way i bumped into someone i know, and we stopped to exchange pleasantries.
And that’s when it happened.
A full on, holy shit moment smacked me right upside the head.
Lemme shine some light on that for y’all.

Three of only a handful that i still consider myself friendly with in this town, belong to a group of women that hang out together and do a lot of fun stuff. From the first time i met this woman, i liked her, and wanted to be friends with her. As i got healthier, i went from wishing it were so, to trying to make it happen. A little bit. Here and there.
Last week as i was walking away from our exchange on the sidewalk, i finally realised that she is not interested. Based on results, she doesn’t want to be friends with me.

The amazing thing is, it didn’t bother me all that much. She might not have the time. She might not like me enough, or even at all. I could have given it more time and ascribed more potential reasons why, but i know the bottom line is it doesn’t matter and it’s not my business anyway.
I’d already figured out i didn’t want to be a part of the group she’s in (which is a good thing cuz i ain’t welcome), and that felt liberating. Recognising that a friendship with her isn’t going to happen didn’t feel great, but it didn’t devastate me. It stung a bit, but it also felt liberating. It opened up some real estate in my brain and liquidated some mental currency that i could better use somewhere else.

She has politely refused my offers and it didn’t kill me and i don’t hate her. In fact, i still like her and i’m not scared about it. The next day i looked over a bunch of pictures of her and her group doing the fun stuff that i thought i wanted to do with them. I don’t belong there. They knew it and i do, too. I looked at other pictures, where she’s living her life and doing her thing, and i saw that i didn’t belong there, either. She hasn’t invited me in, and after looking for a bit, i don’t want her to. Friendship requires that both parties consent, and with the knowledge that i don’t have hers, my own desire has withered to almost nothing.

This is a big victory for me. I’ve smashed yet another sick construct my abusers built into my brain, and become that much more capable of functioning well in everyday society. I was rejected and i didn’t die.

And a week later, the lesson is helping me plan for my future.
I was vague again, i know.
Elucidation is coming… Eventually.
Heh.

Love and Peace To All,
~H~



IMAGE: trail

Bring It!

So, i think shame is my driving emotion, and one of my core issues is rejection.

It isn’t hard to see how the 2 things would be intertwined in anyone’s life – they’re certainly tightly wound together in mine.
Last Friday night they slammed into each other and almost brought the house down. My Little Crooked House, the house of cards i’ve built around me to handle the state of the world at this moment, and perhaps, even my house. My brain is a house where a lot of people live, you see. I’m the landlord, the property manager, and the onsite handyman for all of it. I own a lot of real estate up here. Occasionally, i have found a bit of space that i don’t, but i’m a keen negotiator, and so far all my offers to buy have been accepted. I’m quite the land baron, doncha know. My offers were generous, and the rent, low.

I’m going to talk about sex today. My life as a sexual being was heavily impacted by my upbringing –i mean, duh!– but i don’t write about it specifically. One, it’s deeply personal, not just for me, but for a lot of people. Another reason is that, if i started talking about sex on my blog, it would likely change the tone here and take things in a different direction. That’s something i’m not currently interested in, nor am i properly equipped to deal with its attendant baggage and potential pitfalls. This piece is more about what i learned in a situation that involved sex. A lot of things in this piece might seem double entendre, but unless i make the joke, no innuendo is intended. I’m mostly talking about emotional intimacy, the sexual kind is merely the vehicle driving me to my destination, ya dig?

So don’t worry… Nothing any more TMI than usual.
Heh.

As an adult, i never gave much thought to getting married. I was busy surviving, and also enjoying having a personal space that wasn’t being constantly violated. I liked being on my own, and alone. It relaxed me a little. (As much as i’m ever “relaxed”. It is getting better, though. Work in progress and all that.) When i fell in love for the first time, parts of my personality came into play that lie mostly dormant. By that i mean, i was born to serve the needs of my mother, and i was raised to be a person to be used, worked, consumed.

I’m not well educated. I’m not great at research. And while psychology is a science, it isn’t a hard one. The psychiatrist who treated my bipolar disorder once said that it’s so soft, it’s mushy. This is to preface my thinking on this matter. I don’t know if it’s correct, i’m not at all sure it could stand up to scientific scrutiny or even be tested. I just think it’s a possibility, and it helps me deal with the wreckage that childhood abuse has caused in my life. All of this to say, i think 1 of the positives that came from being a multiple, is that i’m hella good at compartmentalisation. I think it enabled me to take aspects of my personality that i was born with, ones that i couldn’t display, and hide them away in little pockets of my brain. Qualities like confident, bold, brash, assured.

These qualities have popped up a few times over the years. They come out of nowhere and disappear again. When my mother’s relationship with the man i called Daddy ended, she moved away and i was no longer being passed around for a paycheque or as a party favour. My need for my system dropped drastically. Switching almost ceased entirely, although i still slid around on the daily. I remember people approaching me for sex. By that time, memories i had of being raped i thought were dreams, and details were murky. Sometimes i would be approached by local boys who assumed the fat girl would be grateful for their attention and just offer myself up. And sometimes, those who had enjoyed access to my body previously***, would come back for more. I rebuffed them all. It’s my guess that being a multiple enabled me to do that. I couldn’t say No before, but when we moved away, i could, and as soon as i was able to – i did. I stopped having those dreams-that-were-actually-memories for many years. They didn’t return until i was sexually assaulted again. And although i’ve been sexually assaulted a number of times as an adult, unlike when i was a child, i was in the face and fought each of them however i could.*

Wow, it’s like every paragraph is a preface for the next one. Is that how grownups write? Because i’m usually all over the place. You know, like i am right here. Heh.

This brings me back to that part in the beginning where i mentioned falling in love. Prior to him, i’d never been in love. My first relationship i thought i was in love, but once we broke up i quickly realised it was obsession. After her, i only chose partners that i wasn’t deeply attached to. I stumbled across him using a dating service. I’d never met anyone as kind and smart as he was. One day i looked at him and made up my mind i wanted him for good. We’ve been together ever since, coming up on 25yrs. Amd those pocket traits came in handy with all of my relationships, but especially with him.

Once i got him though, it triggered issues that created years of chaos and struggle for both of us. I wasn’t the only one with issues, and i wasn’t the only one who’d survived childhood trauma.

His story is not for me to tell, but i do have his permission to touch on this, and to write briefly that we’ve stumbled and faltered in our efforts to find our way to intimacy with each other, emotionally and otherwise. This last couple of years we’ve both gotten to a place where we wanted to focus more effort on us, as a couple. And as i’ve grown in this last round of therapy, i’ve been better able to share myself and give him more access to me as a friend, a lover, and a partner. So too, as i’m mending my mind/body connection, i’m learning who i am, and have been able to better define what i want and what i like –and here’s the big one– to ask for it.

I learned to be ashamed of my body, and as i moved through what happened to me and my system was fully functional again, i felt shame because who would want to be with crazy, gross me? I’d gained and lost hundreds of pounds, and my body showed it, and i was always going to be a bit of a cuckoobird. I told myself i’d tricked my poor husband into being with me. See there? I felt guilty, and then shame crept in because even though i’d convicted myself of bad actions, i still didn’t want to let him go and still craved deep connection with him.**

He’s had a bit of therapy, and then there’s me… Between us, we’ve been able to get some serious and significant work done, particularly over the last 6mos or so. We’re walking through all of this together, closer than we’ve ever been before, and in love again for the first time in, well, too long. Stupid, beautiful love. So some of those pocket traits aren’t so pockety anymore, and i boldly and somewhat brashly, asked for, ah, some. Nuff said here, right? I believed that asking out loud with my words might address some of the body shame i still carry, and maybe the shame that plagues me over going after him like a steamroller at our beginning.

I didn’t anticipate the anxiety. By afternoon i was tightly wound, and by the time he got home, i was fit to split. He was glad to see me, and was looking forward to later. (Oh god, the teenagers that live in my brain are cringing and eyerolling like mad, heh-heh-heh.) The brain chatter settled somewhat, and we had a nice supper and were watching some telly. And then… nothing. My husband works hard, long hours, and has extra duties as his boss sits in isolation, post-holiday. He sat on the couch and petered out. (Brain snorts ensue!) I, genius that i am, had a couple of cocktails in me to calm my jitters and hopefully shut the Peanut Gallery up. It worked until shame crept in… And then the shit hit the fan.

A shifting in my brain, a click. A spark of rage lit a fire in my belly. I knew i was in trouble but i was already fading, receding into the back side of my brain (M-O-O-N, that spells MOON!) and it was all i could do to get my ass to bed.
I recently retired my tongue as a sword, and so with a brief admonishment to my more laconic and caustic bits to mind their Ps and Qs, i went to sleep. When my husband came to bed, i started switching.

I woke up angry. Went to pee and my husband was sleeping on the couch. Weird, the bedroom door wasn’t locked, which is something my system sometimes does when they get mad at him. Great, is he mad at me, then? I decide to get something to eat and go back to my room and write. When he wakes, he comes in and asks me what’s wrong. I ask him to fill me in on what happened after i went to bed, which is when i learn i was switching. He also informs me that no one would engage him, because they said they weren’t allowed to talk to him. Well, something positive, at least. But i’m still angry, and i know i’m angry because i’m hurt, and i think shame is keeping my mouth closed, but NO! It isn’t! Shame is just an emotion that’s letting me know i’m craving connection with this man. It’s fear keeping my mouth shut. FEAR OF REJECTION.

In words still a bit on the terse side, i relate what caused me to go to bed early. He immediately apologises, and gently reminds me how tired he  is after work, but that his plans hadn’t changed. The brittleness inside me disappears, and i tell him my thoughts turned extreme, i began catastrophising, i could feel anger bubbling up and was becoming dissociated. I tell him i went to bed, rather than angry-walk. He says he understands, and as we stand to leave the bedroom (we have 2 children at home, so we try to keep our relationship stuffs there), he grasps my elbows, smiles (oh his smile makes me melt) at me, and makes sure we’re still on for later.
You betcher sweet bippy, baby.

Today, as i analyse and write about it, i see the rejection at play. In fact, it was the star of the show. Shame shone the light on my need for connection, but it was fear that was informing my actions. I was afraid he didn’t want me. I am afraid i don’t deserve him. I feel tremendous guilt over everything i’ve put him through, and shame points that out, as well. Because i still want him for my own, forspecial. And i don’t just want him to be mine, i want him to want me for his, too. I want these connections with him, and in the light of day, i know he does, because i can see it all over him, every day.

70s pop psychology had this concept someone called, “playing old tapes”, and in this case, i think it fits. Asking for what i wanted didn’t occur to me as a child; i’d have known better than to ask, anyway. Asking the other day triggered old home movies and old sad songs in my brain, of how i was only ever wanted for what i could do, or would allow – no one ever really wanted ME, specifically. The more the tapes played, the more i expected him to reject me. Who could want me? I’m afraid of losing him, even though more and more of me believes he’ll never leave me. I’ve lost so much, so many.

Fear of rejection and fear of loss and afraid to be alone, but afraid to be connected.

Shame tells me i need to connect, fear asks me, But what if he doesn’t want to connect with you? I’m not afraid of fear. I’ve dealt with it in all its forms and at all its intensities, the entirety of my life. I confront my fears, these days. I look it straight in the face and say, Yo! What’s up? I’m here to listen and learn from whatever it shines a light on.
Fear is just a feeling trying to tell me something – just like shame. So as i write this, i’m thinking that fear wasn’t keeping my mouth shut any more than shame was. It’s rejection, period, that kept my mouth closed. Fear was just blowing the whistle on it, which i think a subtle, but important, difference.
Being afraid never killed me, and neither has shame. I see them now as helpers, not harmers.

Bring ’em on, then. Whenever, wherever.
I’m ready.

Steep learning curve right now. Fear is reminding me that historically, i fall into a deep crevasse after that. But i’m already down the rabbit hole… Do i meet the Mad Hatter, or do i go full popsicle? Stop confusing me! Damn metaphors, being all contradictish.

Enjoy your Sunday, if you’re reading the day i post this.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*One of them required me to freeze, but i was fighting for the safety of the other woman in the car with me. It was the best course of action, as she was spared.

**See the previous few posts for what i’ve been learning about shame in my life.

***Added after posting: I didn’t know at the time that these people had raped me in the past. All i knew was they were trying to be sexual with me, and i wasn’t having it. It was only when i dove into an ocean full of crazy that started around 2006, did i realise they’d abused me with impunity in the past. Some of them brushed it off and made light of the interaction. Others were right pissed off and pushed harder and/or came at me over and over again. I don’t know if all of them knew i’m a multiple, but i know some did.

Wednesday’s Child Needs Her Some Saturday

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

 

 

The Mystical Power of the Ninja Mouth – PT. II

From Wikipedia:

A ninja or shinobi was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination and guerrilla warfare.

It could be said that i was taught all these skills. I was told i was born for a reason, and that it was very important that i do what i was told. I learned to sit quietly in a room full of people and report back on everything i heard. I knew how to read adults; to assess their personality and anticipate their needs. It was important that people liked me. My mother was always keen to know everyone’s business. I could be helpful by being entertaining, or practically invisible. I adapted quickly to my surroundings, sometimes standing out and sometimes blending in.

The people break has been relaxing. I’ve gotten to where i’m aware of the machinations going on in my head, all the time. It’s exhausting. Leaving the house to accomplish daily activities and running into someone i know takes great effort. What’s their name? (If i’m either manic or depressed, it can be hard to recall. If i first heard their name while in one of those states, i won’t remember.) What was our last encounter like? Is the smile on their face genuine? Did i do something wrong last time? Are they secretly upset with me? Do they even like me? Can they tell i’m freaking out? Is it okay to end the interaction now, or would that be rude? Am i talking too much and they want to get away from me? Am i sweating? Does my smile look insane?

Those social anxiety questions aren’t all that’s happening, either. I’ve got the Peanut Gallery yakking in my head the entire time as well. A running commentary from voices i’ve acquired over the years. Judging my appearance, rating my interaction with people i encounter. Giving me advice on everything. Criticising me, criticising them, worrying about how the exchange is going and trying to anticipate what could happen. Doing quick run-throughs of things i could/should be saying. I’m almost always on edge in social situations.

It wasn’t always this bad. It’s been a process. It’s taken hard work to get this twisted up in knots. Of course this is what’s been going on in my brain during social interactions for most of my life, but i wasn’t conscious of it. I’m the poster child of hypervigilance, but i’m also highly dissociative. I’m the clueless cherry on top of the survival sundae. I wasn’t so much into fight or flight, i was frozen. Like, suspended animation. Sort of floating around, but always in the same state. I was the unexamined life. Even when i finally began trying to figure myself out, it was within the boundaries of what my religion would allow. I was bound by their strict definitions and held back by the death grip they had on my perceptions of life, the universe, and everything.

Once i’d extricated myself from religion’s grasp, i started making real headway. It wasn’t demons or sin or soul ties, it was mental illness. I didn’t need gods, prayers, sacrifices, appeals, supplications, confessions, or loving corrections. I’m just mentally ill. When i found the right person to work with, things started clicking relatively quickly. She explained the science behind how my brain worked, pointing me in the direction of books and studies that were more about the hard science of the brain, and less the mushy quagmire of psychology. That was when i began to be aware of everything that was going on in my head. I learned that my brain doesn’t work like most people’s. Some i may have been born with, but some was certainly the result of my upbringing. And while some of the damage is likely irreversible, learning as much as i can about every aspect of my handicap could help me live a more functional and satisfying life. With serious commitment and careful development of a healthy work ethic, i might be both happy and useful.

Some things i’ve learned about myself haven’t been pleasant. I was taught to manipulate from early on. I learned these skills from my mother, and i developed my own tricks to secure my personal safety. I’m incredibly adept. I can fit in with any group of people you put me in. I’ll quickly align myself with the group dynamic and reflect their identity. I’ll talk like them, look like them, and even appear to think like them. It sounds terribly disingenuous, and of course it was, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t consciously done, and my intention was never malicious. I was just trying to survive. My internal air raid siren started going off before i could speak. My brain and my body were always tense, waiting for the next attack. I didn’t know the war was over and i could turn off the alarms. And although i’ve shut down that internal keening, i’m still learning how to stand down. I need regular reminders that the war is over, that i can lay my weapons down.

I now track all the thoughts and voices in my head, and as i stated earlier, it is exhausting. For a long time after i admitted what’d happened to me growing up, i was at their whim. They took all my time and attention. I’ve put my past to bed as well as i can, now i’m on to the business of day-to-day living. It’s taken a while to see that i needed a break from peopling. Even the simplest encounters, like buying groceries, can prove overwhelming for me. And as far as friends go – i prefer short encounters with no more than a couple of people. It’s easier to maintain awareness of what’s going on in my noggin while in smaller groups. Like, two or three. With every added person i become more anxious, and my thoughts start racing. I can lose track and slip into automatic so easily. I don’t want that anymore. I want to be as genuinely myself as i can reasonably and safely be, when in relationships with other humans. I want strong, healthy boundaries. I’m not a beaten dog wandering around with my tail between my legs, hoping someone will pet me. I’m a rescue who went to a great home, where all my needs are well met, and i get all the attention and affection that i require. Now, if i could just hang out at the park with all the other dogs occasionally, without running off yelping because someone comes over for a sniff. Heh.

END of PART II

IMAGE: Negan Scofield

I Made My Friends Like J. F. Sebastian

“There’s some of me in you.”

~J. F., Blade Runner

Friends. Yeah. Looooaded subject for this chicky right here. So much so that i don’t talk about it. It is, perhaps, when i feel the most vulnerable. I had no friends growing up. Not really. I was rarely allowed to hang out with other kids after school, and hey, i wasn’t asked that often. There was a time in grades 7 and 8 when my mom was trying to appear more normal, so i actually had a few friends to sleep over, but that was about it, i think. We couldn’t usually have anyone over because our house was a pigsty. And the bigger my mother got, the worse the condition of the house.

With the exception of 3yrs in cities, the rest of my secondary schooling was done in small towns, where i was quickly branded weird. I was always either close to, or at the very bottom any social ladder. When i finally escaped the back and forth hell of school and home, i went to work in another town. There i was able to turn my attention to making friends. I wasn’t very good at it, but i made 2 very dear friends that accepted me and we bonded. I think it was partly because they were broken in some of the same ways. I lost one of them while trying to please my religious community. I’d give a lot for the opportunity to apologise to her and make amends. I’ve had a few best friends since then, but they’re all gone now. One i hated to leave behind but i had to – the only friendship i’ve ever walked away from, and it pains me to this day. Another one was based on a super-sick dynamic, and so when she got mad and stopped talking to me, i stopped kissing her ass the way i’d always done, so BOOM! friendship over. The last best friend i lost is a betrayal that still hurts – but i think i’m better off.

That last loss made me crawl way up inside myself and i haven’t been that close to anyone outside my husband since then. It’s been a tough job, this figuring out who i really am. I read in books and hear in love songs about the woman who’s a study in contradictions, and it seems so romantic. You ask my husband though… He’ll tell you that an ambiguously ambivalent woman will test a man’s mettle. It’s not romantic at all. My parents taught me on the one hand that we were better than everyone, and i was on this earth for a special purpose. But the purpose seemed to be as a receptacle for their anger and hate. Which creates complications for any future relationships.

I was told by more than one friend they were moving on because there was a certain level of connection they couldn’t get to with me. I was a closed door. They were right. There were others who dropped me because i was unreliable. I might show, i might not. Can’t fault them for that, either. Then there were those who got fed up with being the only one who initiated contact. Totally accurate. I’m terrible at keeping in touch.

I want human connection, but i’m terrified of being rejected. I have a long history with rejection. I don’t care for it and i’d prefer to avoid it if it’s all the same to you, thankyouverymuch. I’m a let’s-hang-out-thanks-now-piss-off kind of person, and who has time for that? It’s not fair. Besides, my last couple of attempts at making close friends were brutal. I was terrible at it. I’ve been stripping down to the real me under all the protective barriers and brokenness, but i’m still not ready for prime time. So the only people i hang out with are my husband, my kids, and my grandkids.

I don’t know if i’ll ever be a people person again. I mean, i love humans. I love y’all soooo much, but i’ve got a lot to learn about how to be a good friend. I’m gonna have to start with the family i made, though. Seriously, some of folks can be heinous. I’m not well enough or strong enough not to take it personally. I’m looking for rationality, normalcy, and above all, balance.

I’m truly fortunate to have my Little Crooked House and the man-thingy and my lovely young men and their families. I also have an online group of friends that has sustained and even saved me, many times. I know some scoff at such relationships (and some are pretty scoffable… scoff-worthy… whatever, scoff off), but they are an integral part of how far i’ve come. A group of friends i’ve had for over 10yrs, that accept me for exactly who i am and where i’m at, even if i don’t have a clue who or where that may be. They’ve been a safe place for me to talk about things, work things out, and try on new ideas. I parade them around and see if i like the fit. The friends i’ve found here have been both boon and balm for my horn of plenty-crazy. So, wherever i land on the social spectrum – i’m covered.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Luis Villa del Campo, Prague’s Toy Museum

This Beautiful Bag of Mostly Water

 

Loving myself is one thing. Liking myself… That takes some work.
~ HistrionicaButterfly

I’m starting to like myself. Like, holy shit. If you only knew. If you’d spent any time inside my brain, you’d have not thought it possible. I mean, the things i’ve said to myself, about myself. I wouldn’t even say those things to the ones responsible for me being this screwed up. I don’t want to bring down the tone of this piece by being specific. Pretty sure i don’t need to anyway. You already know, because you’ve probably said terrible things to yourself, about yourself too.

I was asked what my greatest fear is. It was during one of those courses that seekers like me are wont to take. It was a deep, intellectual course that asked you questions like, “What are you pretending not to know?” (If you inferred a sarcastic tone in that last sentence, you’re correct. Feel free to carry it through to the end of the paragraph.) In the third level of the course we did a fire walk and went on a zip line (not at the same time, but hey, that might’ve been more fun) and then we were declared an intellectual giant and given leave to talk down to all the unfortunate peons who hadn’t taken the course, henceforth.

My greatest fear was, and is, death. Thanks to how deeply and completely i was indoctrinated in my family’s religion, i still wrestle with that fear. I got some much-needed relief the day i realised that, if the god i was raised to worship is indeed real (for which i see no evidence), i wouldn’t worship him anyway. Still, the vein of acquiescing to religious authority without question, and acceptance of dogma without investigation, runs through me. If i were a tapestry and religion a thread, the pattern of my life would be shot through with it. If i started pulling out those threads, the fabric would fall apart.

To return to the occasion of me being asked to name my fears. We were partnered up and sat on chairs facing each other and were instructed to name everything we were afraid of, stream-of-consciousness style, with no editing. Well, all of this fear flew out of my face like projectile vomit, like  acid. Those who ran the course were right to focus on our fears, but i was a long way from being able to do any serious work on its origins, costs, and consequences. Being terrified of death wasn’t news to me, but something else was. I birthed it like a premature foetus.

I suppose that’s enough build up. Heh.

My second greatest fear is the one where, if i let anyone in to really get to know me, they’ll find out that i’m an awful person and leave.

I was raised with secrets. It started with the real reason i was born, and just continued. I was like one of those cartoon kids getting caught in a snowball rolling downhill, except it wasn’t snow, it was shit. And that shitball kept getting bigger and more destructive. I was taught that we were different than other people. They said we were so intelligent, so evolved. We were part of a privileged circle of spiritual elites that had to practise what we believed in private, behind closed doors. Not because our holy book told us to, but because other people couldn’t understand.

So i grew up inside this terrible dichotomy: being one thing during the day, and something else entirely at night. I knew it was wrong, because it felt terrifically bad. I don’t mean physically, although that part hurt a great deal – i mean it was like carrying a cannonball around in my belly. But these people that i loved, that were entrusted with my care and upbringing, told me it was good. So i learned to subjugate and compartmentalise my thoughts and feelings from a very young age, and the worst thing of all is that i learned i couldn’t trust myself. My thoughts and feelings and perceptions were different than what they were supposed to be, so i did what most abused children do – i internalised the blame. I was the problem. I was wrong. I was bad.

I wondered how they tolerated me at all; i was so grateful for their love.

I always knew there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t born with the knowledge, it was put inside me without my consent. It was the psychological rape that impregnated me with the twisted, misshapen blob of cells that i spat out that day, confessing my fears to a stranger. I wasn’t ready to let it go then. That was over 30yrs ago and here i am finally putting her to rest. I buried my beautiful little hate-baby and i feel so much better. I’m slowly leaving my paranoia behind, like flowers at her graveside. I’m interrupting my inner dialogue that projects how i feel about myself onto the people around me, ascribing meaning to their eyes and putting whispered words into their mouths that are not theirs. And even if i’m right sometimes, does it really matter?

I remind myself of the times in my life when i had friends who welcomed me with smiles and warm salutations. Inside, i was dying. I felt like a fraud, and i was one. I just didn’t know it yet. I had no intimate relationships besides my husband and children, and even those were difficult and strained for me. I was terrified that someone would get close enough to figure out how repulsive i was inside. Bad. Spoiled goods. Completely gone off.

Now i’m starting over and i’m not close to anyone. I’m fortunate to have a situation where i can make short forays into the world around me and practise being me. If i become drained or overwhelmed i can retreat to my Little Crooked House and hermit away for as long as i wish. I’m no longer trying to charm everyone i meet. I don’t need you to be liked. The ones who genuinely haven’t liked me, haven’t hurt me by doing so. The ones that claimed to like me, have often done far worse than even i have done.

My goal is to like myself. To enjoy my own company. To admire and respect my deportment. To please myself.
I am a beautiful bag of mostly water, to riff on a Star Trek quote.

Happy Monday,

~H~

IMAGE: Tim B. Motivv