Message In A Bottle

The only thing i can speak with any authority on, is what it’s like to be me.
I don’t know how to save you, although i assure you that i wish i could.
Far more profound words have been spoken by far greater minds with far larger hearts, and yet it still hasn’t been enough to save some of us.

What i have for you, is knowing who i am, and where i came from and why i am this way and how i work and how i’m a better person than i should have been.
I don’t know why i’ve survived things that have felled other humans.
I have no religion, no god.
I’m barely educated.
I’m not special, or rather, no more special than anyone else.
All i know is that i’ve done it. I’m here. I survived horrific abuse.
Okay, maybe barely, by some standards.
There are more than a few ways in which i’m not terribly functional and not very grown up.
I haven’t accomplished much beyond surviving.

But the surviving part is not a small thing.

I found some friends online, who helped me set up a blog where i spilled some of my story, and i found the right therapist (after HOLY SHIT years!) and somehow it all helped me find my voice. Not just my writer’s voice, but my take-your-fucking-hands-off-me, and my get-the-fuck-outta-my-life voice. I write on this blog like i talk in real life, except i say things that i don’t chat about with just anybody. Heh.

My voice, here, on this blog, is all i have to give. And i feel very strongly that i must give it. Even if no one ever reads a word. (Oh wow, that’s dumb and kind of needy, because clearly some people are reading my words, but cut me some slack cuz i’m going through some shit right now, okay?)
My voice is for me (so there, heh), first and foremost. It clears my mind and helps me sort things out and helps me access feelings that i was never allowed to feel. Say things that, until i was free of my abusers, it never even occurred to me to say.

But if anyone ever does stumble across this place, someone hurting, someone drowning in despair, someone feeling utterly beaten, someone who feels like they have nothing left.
I do this too, for them.
If that is you, i’m doing this for you.

Not so that you can do what i did. As far as i’ve been able to suss, there is no formula. No religion, no god, no guru, no teacher, no parent, no spouse – no one has the answer for everyone. In fact, i have one bald assertion: and that is that no one has the formula but you.
I did it a bit this way, and a bit that way, and when something didn’t work, well, sometimes it was an outrageous failure that i paid for dearly, and sometimes i just shrugged and tried something else.

My point is (if there is one, here, late at night, with me unable to sleep because of pain and worry), that i’m fucking here. And if you don’t believe anything else i write, believe me when i tell you that that should not be. I’m not who i was created to be.
I am my own beautiful, broken, fucked up, ridiculous creation, and i am alive and I DID THAT.

I want people like me, who stumble across this histrionic mess, to find hope. Hope that maybe they can save their own lives and create themselves in an image that pleases them.

Maybe that’s you.
If it is, just know i want you to make it.
The fact that i’ve made it this far is all i have to offer you.
Maybe i can play a teeny tiny little part in helping you save yourself.
I would love that.

Try to hang in there.
I am. I will.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Inside My Skin

There is a part 3 for I’m Not A Bitch, but today i’m posting a little blurp-up on how i’m doing right now.

Last year i had a schedule, with routines, regimens, and rituals aplenty, and i was hummin’ along like a vintage car that’s still with and well cared for by its original owner. I was as functional as i’d ever been in. my. life. and i was proud of what i’d accomplished and excited for more and better in my very near future.

That was when my body started poking my brain and saying, Ahem? Ah, excuse me?
I need some help.

It’s a little on the airy-fairy side for a firm atheist like me, but i have come to believe that it’s possible that it’s not just my brain that houses my memories, but my body, as well. Like, when i feel threatened, i can feel it immediately in my feet, my calves, my knees – the urge to run, to get away. The memories of being trapped by my abusers and unable to leave might be there, i think. Nestled in there with my muscles and tendons, lying dormant until a situation triggers old thoughts and feelings about the past and my fast-twitchers spark awake, GOGOGONOW!

I recognise that this may not be measurable in a scientific sense as of yet, but that’s okay. I’ve been working on getting down into my feelings,
<feelfreetorollyoureyesherebecauseicertainlyam>
and the deeper into them i get, the more i experience how connected my thoughts and emotions are to my physical body, when i feel safe enough to allow it.

As a highly dissociative human, i put distance between emotion and sensation and thought, because they have historically been too much for me to cope with all at once. I also never had a person safe enough and knowledgeable enough to teach me how to process these things; the why-am-i-like-this and the how-do-i-fix-it. Now that i do, when she (my therapist) suggests that my memories are not just in my brain, but in parts of me that exist in real time below the neck, well…
I experience, observe, and exist consciously in those moments when i sit down in the armchair by the window in her office, and my girl parts are buzzing like they’re covered in a thousand bumblebees, and she asks how i’m doing today, and my vagina starts to burn, like the bees are stinging me, so she has me take a big pillow and hide myself behind it, and wrap my arms around that pillow and pull it in tight, hugging my genital area, protecting it with a soft, warm barrier and my loving arms, and she asks me,

“How does that feel?”

And i roll my teary eyes and say, “I don’t know. Weird. Better… I guess. Good.”

Or how i pull my legs up onto that armchair, fanning them out alongside me because if i put them on the floor, they’ll start bouncing like corn popping, wanting to run. I feel safe with her in her office, and i come ready to be conscious of my body and be in it in real time. But other people that live in my brain, especially those that exist in a painful moment from the past, come wide awake and all they feel is trauma, and they want it to stop, so badly; they want to get away, nownownow. So my therapist has me put my feet back on the floor and bounce my knees and flex my feet and sometimes i’ve even placed the bottoms of my feet on the bottoms of hers and pumped my legs, HARD, like i’m riding a bicycle away – away from pain, away from danger, away from evil.

And i’ll be damned if it doesn’t help. I think my body is purging the memories of all the terrible things that were done to me when i was little. When i was with my mother and dependent on her for everything – helpless and unable to get away from the things that she did and allowed to be done to me.
It’s like i’m shedding “psychic” pounds.
I know, another metaphysical word coming from me, but i use it as a poetic description of what i’m experiencing, rather than an actual, tangible thing that exists.
What i mean is, i feel lighter in my feelings and my mood and my outlook on life, when i do these things –when i directly address the sensations in my body, and act out the movements it seems to be itching to do– i feel better.

So this is what i’ve been doing. Learning to tune in to my body, rather than distance myself from it. Letting my fists ball up, kicking my legs, covering my breasts, my belly, my nethers, with blankets, pillows, honouring the need for a barrier. Pulling my big dog into my lap and wrapping my arms around her, burying my face in her neck and feeling her warmth, her weight, her protection.

And walking again. Not taking off. Not getting away.
Recognising and honouring the need of my feet, my calves, my knees, my thighs, to move. The memories of wanting and needing so badly to get away from what was happening to me all those years ago and being unable to, all trapped there in my flesh and fascia. Pumping it out of me with each determined step, the pain and the fear pouring down into my toes and out, like i’ve lanced an infection and i’m draining the pus, leaving a trail on the dirt road behind me.

Lighter. Healthier. Cleaner. Freer.

It’s constant work but i don’t mind. I can see and feel the benefits. Unlike the brain work, where i slogged and slogged through the muck, such slow-going. Putting in so much time with little to no change, but hoping. And then seeing that which had been unravelled, ever so slowly knit back together.
The body work yields refreshingly immediate results. They don’t always last, but i can do it again, and the good stuff lasts a bit longer each time. One day, it might just settle right into my bones and that will be that.

So here i am today.
I’m sober. I’m not doing anything to numb myself, neither brain nor body. I’m living my life as simply as i can so that i might teach myself to be present and feel it all. To make conscious, thoughtful decisions on how to handle and cope with the day-to-days, and those times when life just happens. I mean, i wish it wouldn’t do that, but even to have the presence and awareness inside this skin sack in real time to think, Geez, Universe, now why’dja have to go and do that?! is a priceless gift.

I’ve lost the booze bloat and the grey cast to my skin. I’m back to managing my food choices and eating at a calorie deficit, nutritionally sound and designed for slow and steady weight loss, my goal of a single digit clothing size before summer hits is doable.
I often wear my clothes a bit on the tight side because:

1) I like having my business held in, hugged, and smoothed out;
2) It boosts my self-esteem and motivation to be wearing smaller sizes; and
3) It keeps me consciously in my body, that tight squeeze, that occasional escape of flesh over the top of my jeans.

Understand, this is not a shaming technique. I’m proud as heck of what i’ve accomplished, and any shame i carry about my body is due to childhood stuff, which i’m working through, tyvm. I’m also not suggesting anyone else do what i do for my weight, my body, my brain, my relationships – none of it, period. What i’m doing is sharing my process, in every way and on every level (save sexual and spiritual, although that may come some day), not so that you can do what i do, but so you can see that it can be done. 

I’m 52yrs old, and there’s no shame in that, either.
I am not who i was born to be.
It’s taken a lot of hard, intense, terrifying work to get where i am today.
Nobody could do it for me and a lot of it i did alone because i couldn’t find the right person to do it with me. But i persevered, taking little nuggets of wisdom from this place and that person, knocking on door after door, taking class after class, asking “professional” after professional? for help.
(That word though, what a loaded word in this particular field, heh.)

I got disheartened, led down wrong paths, misunderstood, misdiagnosed, ignored, unfairly judged, and many times, told i was Just fine! and/or Highly functional! because i was so willing to open up and do the work, and already had so much self-knowledge and personal insight and i’m clearly intelligent and have a large vocabulary and i’ve never been arrested or lived on the street, so… What’s your problem?

With such narrow definitions, it’s a wonder anyone gets any, let alone enough help, but some of us do.
If you have stuff inside you that needs work, i want you to see that i’m doing it, and so maybe you can, too.
If you need help with that work (and who doesn’t?), i want you to see that i found some (FINALLY!), and so maybe you can take heart and keep trying until you find that good fit: that person, that place, that program, that system -whatever it is- that clicks with you and helps you get your feet underneath you and walking forward. Or running, swimming, flying – however it works for you to figure your shit out and get through it. Whatever gets you moving towards something that you’ve always wanted for yourself.

I did it and i’m still doing it.
I should be either dead, or locked up, or completely non-functional, or just a shitty, awful human. I am none of those things.

Every time i blog it’s for me first, because it’s been very effective.
But it’s for you, second – because i want you to hang in there. I want you to find help, answers, love, success, happiness. All of it.
I wish i could do more, but i’m a lot of work, and this is what i can manage.
So far, anyway.

I’m pluggin’ away. It’s what works for me. I go through some tough, scary shit, but i just keep plodding along, learning about myself and how i work and doing the work that’s in front of me.

Then there are moments, beautiful, transformative, life-affirming moments, where i can see, not only how far i’ve come, but the depth and the breadth and the weight of what i’ve been able to achieve. It may not look like much to the rest of the world, but that no longer matters to me. What i’ve been able to do with my brain, my body, my life, is incredible and amazing. TO ME.

I hope that i can inspire others to just hang in there and keep trying. Stop and rest and feel how hard it is when you need to, you deserve that, but as soon as you can muster, try some more.

Love and Peace and So Much Thanks,
~H~

Image: Reclining Nude (c1887), George Hendrik Breitner

Imagination

Writing through the bad.

It struck me as maybe an important and helpful thing i could do.
I think i’m right about that – i think.
I fully intend to get to the other side of this, this current pile of crap i’m slogging around in, but sweet, smilin’ Buddha on a bicycle i didn’t know it was gonna be like this.

I’ve worked so hard to get control of myself  – to harness the power of this brain and channel it for good. My therapist says all multiples have a mutant superpower, and as soon as she said what it was i felt it in my bones.

IMAGINATION.
<insertSpongebobmemehere>

My brain is a place that’s hard to describe, even i don’t quite understand.
Years ago, my therapist asked me if i could make a place for one of my people to live. She prefers to be alone. She loves to read and listen to dark music. She’s obsessed with the supernatural and loves the forest.
I immediately made a cabin in the woods for her, a few miles away from the mansion where everyone else lives.
I do not know how to explain that these places exist inside my head. I can see them right now. Outrageously weird and stupid, right? I know.
My imagination is a mutant superpower.

I can make myself sick.
If i were to tell myself i have a terrible headache, one will manifest in a matter of minutes. And i’m not faking it. I’m feeling the pain in my head. I currently have a headache, heh. It’s a doozy.

I’ve had this thumper for months now.
Ever since i returned to therapy.
My head throbs and my legs itch to walk. To go home. To get away from people.

My head hurts. It’s so full. So many people are talking and i know this is my imagination at work. I know these people that live in my brain aren’t real. I know that my brain did an amazing thing to get me through my childhood. It separated my thoughts, my emotions, and my sensations from each other, so that i could survive what was happening to me. And these disconnected thoughts and experiences floated around in my head for so long they became something almost tangible…

My mutant brain had no trouble ascribing identities to them.
These weird and disembodied, precious Bits N’ Pieces.
I know they aren’t real.
Some of them even know it, too.

But here’s the thing. All i have is my own experience to go by.
I may be a brain in a jar, but i have no evidence of that — what i have is experience, and what i experience is other people living inside my brain. Most of them live in a mansion surrounded by a moat. One lives in a cabin. One stomps around the forest like a sasquatch.

And you’d better believe i have a dragon.
When you’ve got these mutant superpowers, of fucking course you get yourself a dragon.

This is the most exposed and vulnerable i’ve been since i disclosed my story all those years ago. I’m sharing this because, what happened to me as a child made me so dysfunctional that i haven’t been able to accomplish much of anything that looks like success by the world’s current metric. This is all i have to give. I made it through and i’m here and i’m a fairly decent human and i’m learning and growing and getting better every single day.

My head is throbbing and bursting with voices. They leak out my ears and spill down my body like a bloody waterfall. Blood in the water.
I survived what happened to me because i became a multiple.
My head is bleeding thoughts because i’m not supposed to talk about this. I was programmed for secrecy. I love my system, but they’re shouting at me SHUT UP! NO! YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED! PRIVATE!

I’m walking around waiting for the beating because i’m not allowed to tell.
I’m a guitar string stretched too tight. Every muscle in my body is on hyper-alert. There’s a terror inside me that they’re going to take me away from my mom.
She’s been dead for nearly 30yrs.

This is writing through the bad. I’ve just gotta get this shit out; if it stays in my brain it rots, putrifies, poisons me. My brain is too dangerous a neighbourhood to walk through on my own. I am holding your hand, reader, so tight.
So many shadows and wisps and slivers of people inside my brain, yet i’ve always felt so alone.

This is reaching out into the dark for a hand – any hand. Anybody.
I know this will be okay. I know i will be okay. I already survived the worst of it – i can be all naked and weird and vomity. One foot in front of the other. One word and then the next.

Thanks for reading. You have no idea how much it means to me.

Drips and Drabs

I’m not doing very well.
I know i committed to writing through the bad, but i’m not sure that’s a good idea at this point. I can devolve so quickly, like i think i am, now. I don’t think this helps anyone, except maybe me.
If you continue reading, be very clear that I live with serious, multiple diagnosis mental illness, and i’m not doing well right now. You may be triggered by the tone of my writing here. That can be good/helpful if you have a solid support system, but it can be problematic/downright dangerous if you don’t. You’re probably already juggling enough. Get some help before you go any further with this post. It’ll still be here when you’re better prepared.

I have a great support system. So while i’m in an awful emotional place right now, it’s safe for me to feel and think the way I am right now, because I have trustworthy people and protected spaces around me, at this very moment. They cover me, and offer acceptance and understanding.

This is all i can write for now. Just know that things could, and probably will, get rough. The last time i was this vulnerable, i shut down my blog and pretended like it never happened, that i hadn’t shown my soft underbelly to anyone who cared to pay attention.

I’ve been on a bender, and i’ve upset my son, and i’m stressing out my husband. I haven’t been able to cook for a week, and i’m fairly sure i smell bad. Today i made hamburger soup in my Instant Pot, and i’m going to ask my husband to help me shower off my booze and sweat stench, because the bathtub is the scariest place in my house. So today is a success. Maybe i can achieve just a little bit more tomorrow. I have a dear friend who is going to babysit me at her house with cheesy movies. Maybe i can even make supper again. Gotta love my pressure cooker.

I’m not going to be sharing details of what happened to me. It’s awful and private, and it’s not what i made this place for. I made it to share with you that you can overcome terrible things. To share how quirky and weird my brain is, and to share how hard it’s been for me to figure out how to be alive and functional while being a victim of long term, traumatic abuse that split my brain apart into fragments – but i did it, and i’m going to keep doing it. And if i can, maybe you can too.

I will try my hardest to write some more tomorrow. It ain’t gonna be anything spectacular, in fact it’s gonna be maudlin and histrionic and very, very young, because that’s how i feel right now. Very young and very small.
And a bit smelly.

Mind Your Pace

Let us explore it together. Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced* into the light. Share your pain. Share your pain with me, and gain strength from the sharing.
~ Sybok, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

I figured out that i needed to be back in therapy.
Great. Go me.
There’s not as much sarcasm there as you might imagine. I’ve become conscious/present/mindful enough that i knew something was up before things got seriously problematic.

So I return to my therapist and I find out that i’m an onion, just like everybody else on the planet; I have layers. Whoopee. (Now that was sarcastic.) This is the next level, deeper healing, my body and my brain trying to get back to where it’s supposed to be. I’m cold, so i shiver, i’m hot so i sweat, i’m hungry i eat, i’m tired i sleep, i’m upset, so i soothe.
Except that last one i’m not so good at.

Anytime i’m upset, my system is ready to do its thing. Now, i’ve spent the last few years practising being the head of my inner household, and that’s involved taking the lead as well and as often as i can when i experience anger or fear. It wasn’t easy. Dissociating is something i’ve done since before i could speak, and it’s nearly as reflexive as breathing. I had to learn what triggered it (no problem there – EVERYTHING!) and identify symptoms that sliding was occurring or a switch likely to happen.
Mindfulness. Mindfulness has been absolutely necessary in this process.

For any who aren’t familiar, Google states that mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” It’s the least pop-psychology, airy-fairy explanation i’ve found. It’s simple and practical, which often works best for me. My imagination is already over 9000, so something uncomplicated and workable can temper my inner chaos quite nicely.
Learning to turn my awareness inward, and listen to what my body is trying to tell me that it needs is going to increase the degree to which i can function in the world.
I seek fulfillment. I want deeper and more meaningful relationships, with reciprocity. I hope to bring more and better to humanity’s table.

It’s been a bit tricky to find the calm and dispassionate observer inside myself, without switching to a disconnected part of me that i made long ago to perform that function. A desensitised transmogrification i have, because i lacked the ability to stay and do it myself, save under the most benign of circumstances. I could pause and take stock if something physical was going on for me, like a cold, or something gastrointestinal, and i wasn’t too bad at it when my children needed that from me, but beyond that, i don’t think i was in the face for that stuff. Even a small amount of stress and anxiety could mean distance, for me. I might become a numb outlier, frozen in the periphery, watching only, affecting nothing.

I started mindfulness with my therapist, here in my Little Crooked House. At first, i couldn’t even close my eyes, and she had to sit on the far side of the room from me. We began with easy observations, like whether i’m warm or cold, am i hungry, do i have a headache today, how’s my fibro pain… I could feel the calm flowing in just from an easy, surface check-in. I’ve always found these psychological exercises difficult – i can become snarky and eye-rollish. I feel extremely uncomfortable because my mother was into every new therapy that came around, and she expected me to perform for whatever group she was trying to fit into at the time. She wasn’t using these tools to deal with her issues and make a better life for us, she used the people in these groups for attention, for pity, for money. She also had a deep disdain for the practitioners of these various methods. I picked up that scorn and still struggle with it, every time my counsellor brings up something new.
Besides, it never did anything for my mother except make her more dangerous, so my reflex response is usually to cringe and call bullshit.

The breakthrough came in the shower. The bathroom is the most triggery room in the house for me, and i’ve had to fight to develop decent, regular hygiene. It’s not just a reminder of abuse, but also of its aftermath. And there are always mirrors, which are a delicate business. I always dissociate to some extent when i look in one. Touching my face, touching my body, toileting, all these daily activities that occur in the bathroom are minefields for me even when i’m doing well.

One day i’d had enough of feeling scared and repulsed every time i shower. I decided to use what i was learning in therapy. I felt the warm water on my skin. I felt my feet touching the bottom of the tub. I could smell soap. I looked at the shower curtain that i’d bought at the store because the colour calmed me. I reminded myself that i’m not a child anymore, and the people who hurt me in the bathroom are either dead or no longer in my life. My husband wouldn’t allow any of them to get near me. I’m big now and able to defend myself. I like being clean and smelling nice, because it makes me feel normal and capable and strong and grown up.

It worked. I can stay in the shower for longer than 10mins now. I can take hot showers if i want to, and talk myself through it if i get freaked out. I don’t even lock the door anymore. A few years of bathroom mindfulness later and i can stand naked in front of the mirror after showering and do my skincare regimen. I still recede a little to wash my face and do my makeup – but i don’t have to leave anymore and let someone else do it. I never thought i’d be able to use the bathroom like a regular person.

Mindfulness is an effective coping skill whenever i use it, but i still need lots of practise. I’ve brought it into my eating habits with great success. I ask myself if i’m hungry and check in with my body. If i don’t feel it physically, i try not to eat. (I will occasionally allow myself to soothe with food, but it’s rare.) I also try to eat at the table, especially when i’m alone, so i’m conscious of how much i’m eating. It’s also easier to catch myself if i’m gobbling it down. Then i remember that i’m no longer a child going through extreme poverty, nor am i being punished or rewarded with food. I’m a grown woman who has a full refrigerator and a stocked pantry. My mother’s dead and can never starve me again.

Social situations are where i still struggle to use mindfulness. It’s difficult to stop myself from shifting to automatic when i’m around people, but when i do the benefits are amazing and deeply impactful. Some friends actually ask if they can touch me now, and although i’ve come far enough along that i’m mostly okay with physical contact, being asked my permission heals broken parts of me on the deepest level. It gives my system a sense of safety they’ve never had, but desperately wanted. I’ve got a long ways to go, but peopling productively and successfully will require no less than my lifetime i reckon, so i’m reconciled to the work. I love people, and the better i get at being around them, the easier it will be to show them how much.

I brought up mindfulness because i believe it’s part of the reason i lost time on Thursday. The thing about it that’s perhaps the hardest part for me, is that it requires me not to be numb (freeze). I’ve got to find that sweet spot where i’m fully present in my body, but not being swept away by my emotions or overwhelmed by physical sensations, where fight/flight can kick in. I must venture out from the graveyard where my brain hides, and be manifest among the living. To not only see but to be seen.

This will take time and effort, which i knew, but there was a piece missing. My therapist had been gently trying to show me, week after week, but i kept missing her point.
I’ve done all this work over the years, all this incredibly hard work. And it took maximum effort and total commitment. It was arduous, but i did it assiduously. Some of it was nothing short of brutal. I can do time and effort.

So i came into this a little puffed up. I have accomplished a lot, and i figured that i was so experienced at this kind of inner work, that i was gonna power through it and just get it done. My childhood was hellish and i survived. I live with a bunch of other people in my brain and i make it work. I got this.
My body seeks homeostasis, so i must establish a baseline? Okay, lemme jus’ go back to my therapist for a few sessions, she’ll tell me what i have to do, i’ll do it – boom. Done.

I’m having trouble writing some transitional sentences to get you to the point i’m trying to make. I think my difficulty is a reflection of where i’m at with this bit of information. The knowledge that i can’t push or power through this next bit of treatment. This foul chunk of reality that i must chew and swallow if i want my dessert. It chased me right out of my own damn face.
I have to be mindful while i go through the traumatic events of my childhood. I must meet my Bits N’ Pieces where they’re at, join hands with them, and feel what they feel while knowing what i know. Mindfulness can’t be done quickly. Mindfulness is methodical. I can’t just take a quick dip in this slough. I can’t just burn rubber and rip through the neighbourhood.

Pardon me, but fuck, fuckety-fuck.

Back around 10yrs ago, i barfed up my story for my husband, and a few blog buddies. I shut that blog down tight shortly thereafter and i don’t discuss it with my husband unless i absolutely have to, which up until a few months ago, wasn’t very often. And one of my favourite things about my therapist, was that she never asked me to tell my story.

Well.
<insert Maximus Profanitatum here>

Everything inside me was created to hide the truth. I was hardwired never to speak about it, to denydenydeny. I dealt with that by mastering the way my brain works.
The leader of my pack.
The Wah-wah-wah teacher of my own Peanut Gallery.
I am Queen Face of Cuckoo Island.
But the first rule of Fight Club applies. (Yeah, i don’t care for the trope, but it was an excellent movie, and i saw it before i found my anger about it.)

I’ve become close with my system. With some i’m parental, with some i’m the boss, but i’m friends with them all, and i love every one: deeply, emphatically, and unconditionally. They’ve taught me how to love myself, because of course, they are me. Yet i loved them as a separate entity first. I looked at it like, they lived in my brain, but they weren’t a part or product of my brain. (Having mutant-level imagination made these concepts easy for me to grasp, but i think you’ll get the gist.) The time came where i’d learned enough about them and had enough conscious awareness as a multiple, that these partitions in my mind melted away, and i had a psychological experience of them as part of me and my brain.

That experience has made my life richer and finer by far, but the abuse is not discussed, per se. There are little bits that are trapped in a moment, and those that are not much more than emotion, but i gently care for them, and conversation about what or why they are hasn’t seemed necessary. Until now. And i understand why this process can’t be rushed and must be mindful. They are delicate creatures, and they’ve been through more than enough already. They need me to hold their hand while they tell their story, and so i will.

I know now why a good therapist had to let me walk away, knowing that i probably wasn’t done yet. Because it must all be my choice:

– how to live with how my brain works,
– how involved with other humans i want to be,
– how much real world function would i like to have,
– what is healing?
– what is successful?
– what is fulfilling/fulfilled?

And the most important thing of all is that it must be on my time. None of this can ever be forced* – not by her, not even by me. She said it a couple of weeks ago and it’s reverberated in my head ever since. She said that she would never, ever try to force us to do anything we didn’t want to do. She said that forcing is abuse, and we were forced, over and over, and that needs to not happen again.
This means that i have no idea how long this process will take, but it ain’t gonna be done anytime soon.

I love Star Trek, and i’ve seen all the movies (don’t even talk to me about the reboots, as they don’t count in my world). Since i accepted that i must move through this process slowly and meaningfully, i keep thinking about The Final Frontier. I see myself as Sybok, moving amongst these strange aliens and offering to share their pain.

It is through maudlin sentimentality, dark humour, and cheesy movies, that i will survive.

Stay tuned.

*It’s a great quote, and fits, except for his use of force. Sybok was a bit off, and he was wrong about god, so i think it still works for me. Heh.

La Vie Dramatique

I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more
~ C. S. Lewis

My relationship with pain is as interesting as anyone’s, i guess. Maybe a bit more complicated?

I haven’t been in this much pain in a long while. I said it yesterday and i’ll say it again – it’s because i have to bear it myself. One reason why i splintered into smaller pieces was to cope with pain. It was to keep my thinking separate from my physical and emotional experiences of such. When i first split, i lacked the sophistication required to process what was happening to me. Hell, i’m not sure i can even now, but that’s where i endeavour to go and what i intend to find out.
I will go to the place where i feel what i felt, armed with what i know. I will attempt to have the experience of both of these things at the same time, in hopes of bringing more healing to my entire system, and more functionality to me, the primary face holder.

So this is an opportunity to prepare for it. And a sign that it’s already begun.

***** A Brief Aside *****

Listen, i know how dramatic i am right now. All things considered, i think i’m doing fairly well with regards to self-awareness, staying present, and being mindful.
I know myself, and making things all soap opera helps me deal. I was raised to downplay, deny, and forget anything bad that happened to me. Even minor stuff was met with admonitions that i was making a mountain out of a molehill and crying crocodile tears. Oh, and the ubiquitous, “You think YOU have it bad? Well… ”

Sharing my story like a tele novella is a personal acknowledgment that what i went through was, in fact, horrific. And perhaps more importantly, it’s standing up to those who silenced me and would still if they could.
I also think that, if my upbringing had been even a little bit better, i’d have made my living as an artist of some kind. I was heading down that road in spite of all the crap thrown at me, including my mother’s active sabotage. So it’s kinda who i am anyway. (I chose my blog name for reasons, cantcha see?)

If i can put a few poetic flourishes on this material, if i can turn it into art, i can live with what happened to me.
If these weird, quirky, tragic, and yes, histrionic little word pieces can enlighten, enrich, or dare i hope, assist, other humans in their own quests for health and happiness?
Then maybe i can do more of living than the surviving it part.

**********

I created Bits N’ Pieces to cope with trauma, and once i knew i’d done so, i quickly learned that dissociation could be helpful, useful, and occasionally preferable.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1995. Finding community to help me learn to live with it, showed me some who suffered so terribly they were bedridden, some dependent on pain medication, some driven to the deepest depths of depression. While i knew i was in a great deal of pain, i observed this from a distance. When i began working with multiplicity as the diagnosis for the way my brain works, i realised that i’d been dissociating from the pain.
Which was just peachy as far as i was concerned.
I always knew i had a high pain tolerance, but now i knew why.

I learned that, like most ailments, the fibro was exacerbated by stress. Fear and anxiety caused a noticeable uptick in pain and sleeplessness, but i think i simply adjusted my level of dissociation to handle it.
I dialed it up a notch or 2.

I am not doing that right now.

DJ-who-sounds-like-a-car-salesman: Hey Listeners, don’t touch that dial! We have more fatigue and achiness comin’ up after this brief message from our sponsor.

Car-salesman-who-sounds-like-a-DJ: Looking to get an upgrade? Drive off our lot in style with one of our luxury sedans!

I could get approved, but i couldn’t keep up with the payments. I may need to take a leave of absence from work, so i’ve gotta drive this one until the wheels fall off. Heh.

What i mean is, i’ve got to feel this physical pain because i’ve got to feel the psychic pain that’s coming, and it’s very possible it could take me out of life for a while. I’m not a danger to myself, i have no urges to harm nor any ideations. I just have a limited amount of energy and i may need it all.

So today i can barely move. The bone-grinding ache has crept into my wrists, my hands, up into my face, and this afternoon it moved into my lower back and the front of my thighs. My headache throbs incessantly. I want to sleep, but the anxiety, the head and body aches, plus the UTI, have all kept me from getting more than a couple of hours at a time. And there is no sleep without dreams, dreams where the pain always finds me and although i’m lucid, i don’t wake myself because, Why bother? I stay in the dream and i clean other people’s messes and i care for other people’s children. Various family members pop in and out, looking at me with contempt and condemnation and i’m drowning in shame and embarrassment. My head feels like it’s cracking open and my whole body throbs and my waterworks are freezing.

Maybe emerg again tonight, and more therapy fun tomorrow.

Whee?
(There’s a pun there.)

Tears In Rain

Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?
~ Leon Kowalski, Blade Runner

I must write about today, and i’ll try not to take days to get it up. My concern is that there is so much i want to say about it, that i’ll lose some important parts because i’m a shit typer on a crap keyboard and i’ll never be able to bash it out fast enough.

I saw my therapist today and it was an hour i hope i never forget. It may be one of the most impactful hours i’ve ever spent with her. When we sat down she immediately told me that she was weepy and sleepy, but she was fully capable of being present in our session. She’s done this before when she had personal issues, and i appreciate it. If i could already tell that something’s not quite right with her, the acknowledgement builds trust and esteem (in me, for both myself and her). It also gives me a heads up if i’m too fucked up at that moment to notice.

A client of hers died. They were a multiple, like me. She was telling me how good a person they were, and how well they’d been doing recently, and then her face crumpled and she was wet-eyed and finding it hard to speak. She was upset at how difficult it is for multiples to get proper treatment, how we’re the redheaded stepchildren (my words) of the DSM-V. How we’re often blacksheeped and scapegoated by our families, and mercilessly troped in art and media. DID can be devastating and debilitating, and she knows. She’s seen how we struggle to find help, to understand and to be understood, to find acceptance, to be extended grace and mercy.

She was moved to tears. For multiples. For me.
She was angry over the unwillingness of those in the psychological and medical profession to acknowledge us. She was angry at the doctor who bluntly told her, “we don’t read that chapter”. She spat out how, up until recently, multiples were forced to switch in front of a board in order to receive income support while they sought treatment. I knew that already, knowing a woman who’d had to perform her trauma in front of a bunch of strangers years ago. (When she came back to the face* she was under a table, shuddering and sobbing.) The fact that there’s no standard of education/training in how to deal with multiples, save from those who’ve made a point of trying to help/treat us.

She was pissed about it. She had angry tears.
She was hurting for us.
Someone was hurting for me.

It’s been hours since it happened, hours since i’ve been home, and hours since i started writing this. I’m sorry, but i’m not going to get this up today. I hope tomorrow, but i don’t know. This has hit me on such a deep level i’m having trouble accessing it. There are a lifetime’s worth of protections inside me, all designed to keep this intensity of emotion away from me. And i reflexively dissociate from feelings like this – i numb out. I float.

I don’t know how to feel or process her experiencing sadness and anger for me. That she mourns.
I’m not worth anyone’s time or attention, because i brought all my troubles on myself.
Because i’m a drama queen.
I’m a compulsive liar.
I’m a chaos addict.
I’m an attention hog.
I’m borderline, a narcissist, a psychopath, schizophrenic, schizo-affective.
It’s just bipolar. It’s just PTSD. (Yes, the word “just” has been used – to my face.)

The years of my adulthood spent knowing something was wrong with me and seeking help, but never getting enough. Never having that click of knowingness, that inner a-HA! It’s like putting together a puzzle without the box it came in. You’re not sure what you’re creating, but you’re determined and things are taking shape… And then you find that one puzzle piece that is close to the centre and joins that ring of wtf-is-this? pieces together and holy crap! it’s your face.
The early years of knowing i had a lot going for me if i could just get some help, some clarity, some tools, so i could get my feet underneath me and set to walking in some direction with some kind of intent. And then getting some of those things, but not being able to turn it into any lasting change of mindset, or molding of attitude, or definition of purpose. And the judgment and condemnation of self that always followed, beating me down, wearing me away; the slow erosion of aspirations and the wasting of ambition.

Perhaps the worst bit was running from the diagnosis. I was taught by my mother to bury and dismiss any obvious characteristics of being multiple. I learned from society’s awful tropes that multiplicity was dangerous, if not outright ridiculous. Then there was the mental health profession’s ham-handed bungling of treatment, or their opportunistic feeding upon us for notoriety and financial gain, or their cold (and, it seems to me, strangely angry) refutation of multiplicity, that set the capstone atop my own personal wall of denialism.

I sat there in her office and looked at her with her blotchy, squinchy face, dabbing at her eyes and blowing her nose, and i could see that she SEES the terrifying otherness that i’ve faced my whole life. She SEES the pain, the fear, the constant struggle, of trying to find help and acknowledgment from someone who should be able to help me, and getting nothing, or the wrong thing, or not nearly fucking enough.
She’s angry for me, and she hurts for me, and she mourns all my little deaths.

I DON’T FUCKING KNOW HOW TO PROCESS THIS.

I’m entering into the part of therapy that i thought would never be part of therapy with her.
Disclosing my story.
Sharing my parts.
I must take what was scattered and gather it to me. Connect the things that have been disconnected since i was a baby. And i know what i must do to be a new level of functional. I know what needs to happen to get closer to a real live Homo sapiens sapiens. I must feel the feelings while knowing what I know.
Once i understood from her that it was the necessary next step on my journey towards healing, health, and functionality, i hellahellahella didn’t want to, but i knew that i would. I also know that i will get through it and be better, not all better, but much. I know that i’ll be closer to all the things i seek, that some of those goals i had in my youth might yet be mine, and more easily too, having slogged my way through this boggy bit of the path that’s before me. Yes, i had no illusions and i knew i was gonna git ‘er done anyway.

But i now have something i never thought i could, something i’d forgotten i’d even wanted at one time.
To be seen in this way, to have my specific and personal struggle seen and acknowledged, and to see someone have the appropriate emotional response to it.

Righteous indignation.
She had it for that client, tragically lost, and she has it, FOR ME.
A part of me that has always been alone and stopped considering it would be otherwise a long time ago – suddenly is not. And doing this, this part that i’ve been dreading so hard that i can’t barely sleep/think/function, this part that has me so stressed i’m a switchy/slidey parade, a Bits N’ Pieces Sideshow (a Histrionica Production), well…

I actually believe i won’t be doing it alone. She will be with me. And i think that i think that she won’t ever hurt me. I mean, she’s told me and all of me that she won’t ever purposely hurt me, and if she ever did, it would be accidental and she would be sorry and do everything she could to make it right, but everyone hurts us and we expect it because why wouldn’t we because everyoneveryone does, but she hasn’t,
and we’re starting to maybe believe that maybe she won’t. She hasn’t so far, and no one has known us so long and not.

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it?
~ Roy Batty, Blade Runner

This is all i can do, for now. I hope it made some sense. I may add to this, but i’m floating away a bit, so we’re stuck with this today. 2 days later, heh. It could have been longer or not at all, i suppose. Not bad.

* In my own personal multiple slang, being in the face means currently in control of the system. The person/part that the rest of the world is dealing with in that moment.

Image: … Like Tears In Rain, Vladimir Eisinhorn