Blippity-Blobbity-Oops!


Ah, so… I’ve hit my first wee bump with the writing thing. At long last, and apparently surprising to precisely zero people so far (although i’ve only told a handful), i decided to give this writing thing i do a real go. I’ve been at this in one form or another for most of my life, but comparing myself to established writers, both great and small, kept me stuck.

A couple of things needed to happen:

  1. I needed to be functional enough to take on the discipline of a job/career;
  2. I had to believe i have something worthy to offer.

You say, H, of course you have something worthy to offer! Everyone has something worthy to offer! I read your blog and i like it/learn from it/am helped by it!

To which i have invariably responded (in my head, because you haven’t had this conversation with me, but i’ve had it with you many times), Yes, that’s the right thing to say, but is it a true thing?

I got serious about blogging, when i started this on my birthday a number of years ago. I had another blog where i basically disclosed my abuse story to some friends i trusted. As a recently diagnosed multiple (you know it as DID), many of those posts were strange, unsettling, visceral, and i was in and out of hospital while writing them. I was regularly not the one telling the stories, it was other parts of my system. When i’d gained enough control and stumbled across days and days worth of incredibly distressing stories, i was horrified. Mortified. I shut it down and locked it up. I still get a bit hot in the face just thinking about it.

I don’t have many non-internet friends. There are people i’m friendly with, and i refer to them as friend out of courtesy now. It’s a shallow, polite interaction, like discussing the weather (which i’m fine with, to be clear). In actuality, i would say i have 3. Three real life friends. On the internet though, i claim a few dozen. These are people i’ve known for nearly 20yrs now, and they’ve stuck with me through my n00b years, my self-harm, my commitments, my hyperbolic vitriol, and bouts of white-hot rage. The interesting thing is that, an inordinate number of them write. While i only know of one other regular blogger, many are working on a novel, or teaching English, or are successful freelancers, or established writers with proper publishing houses. And they’re good.

Isn’t that interesting?

A few of them have regularly given me a gentle push to write MORE. To write a novel, a story, anything.

Recently, something clicked into place inside me and i said, I’m going to write as if it’s my job.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
I know, based on years of introspection, learning who i am and how my brain works, that there is potential for some problems:

– i’ll want to do it perfectly;
– i’ll try to do too much;
– i’ll compare every aspect of my writing to everyone else’s;
– the transition to a higher pressure medium of writing will be difficult;
– i could hit overwhelm and shut down;
– it could trigger a mania;
– i could get switchy and lose valuable time and momentum;
– i could lose functionality in other areas that i’ve worked hard to achieve.

I started off reading article after story after listicle on how to get published. How to get eyes on my stories, how to get added to the best publications, and OF COURSE! how to make money. Each publication that sounded like it might be a good fit had their own criteria to be added as a writer. Then there’s networking, engaging with your audience, signing up for their newsletters and being asked for support money…

I’ve already been added to a couple of lovely publications and i’ve gotten eyes on my stories. I’ve even entered a couple of pieces in a not-small competition. Oh, and did i mention i am NOT techie, but i have to learn how to use a completely different setup?
Pardon me, but the learning curve was steep as fuck.

I resurrect some social media.
I look into upgrading my phone so it’s easier to take nice pics (i suck at it, like, no really).
I try to beef up my interactions with people who contribute to an overall flavour i’m trying to… What, communicate? Sell?

I’m getting up at odd hours to write because i can’t sleep.
OH! and here’s some other things:

– a relationship exploded;
– my husband needed me to work with him somewhat regularly;
– and Mania comes knocking on my door asking if i want to come out and play.

So… That happened quickly.
At least i’d anticipated it. I talked to my partner and a couple of trusted friends.
And then i was stressed at work and annoyed and i got switchy.
I took a fall. Tripped over a light and a thick cord and went down, hard.
I lost the face, and a few days along with it.
It’s just how it goes, man.

I’m quite aware the tone of this piece is manic. It’s full of dramatic pauses and single lines for added emphasis. This is what i’m like when i’m in a mania. I don’t think i’m going to go any further down that road than where i am right now. I have plenty of tools at my disposal, and i’ll use any and all of them. I have supportive people who know i’m manic and we have open dialogue. They have a ticket to ride, and by that i mean they have permission to check in on me any time they wish. They’re allowed any commentary and no subject is taboo. I can’t know for sure what’s coming, but who does? I need to prepare for tomorrow but be as present and mindful as i can be today. Keep my mind on the business at hand, which isn’t being the poster child for how to be a successful internet writer.

I’m going to write for a few publications, only. I’m going to focus on giving them quality product. I’ll interact with my readers a little, when i can. I’ll do a teeny bit of work on my social media, so i guess that means pithy commentary and shitty pictures.
And, pause for effect…

This place is integral to my continued mental health.
If you got through whatever this is, you’re a rockstar — Thank you!

I feel more grounded just plunking all this out on my keyboard this morning. That’s how it works for me, here. Money would be nice, but it’s not my currency. Heh. I place my value in my own mental health, and in being able to help someone see the possibilities for having more of what they want and less of what they don’t. I won’t tell you how you should go about it, but i will give you an unvarnished look into how i’ve gone about it for me.

Y’all hang in there as best you can.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Sarah Kilian

Inspecting the Damage

WARNING: Discussion of self-harm, specifically head-banging. Mentions of binge drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders, also trichotillomania.

It would be disingenuous, or a lie by omission, to not post about my recent fall.
I didn’t wind up in the hospital this time, so YAY! but it was a bad one. If i’m gonna help myself, and have any hope at all of truly helping anyone else, it’s gotta be real, and it’s gotta be all of it. No convenient skip overs. There’s no need for TMIs most of the time; i can be tactful, and i’m respectful of others’ privacy. I know probably some of you will be saying, “Wait, your entire blog is TMI.” I would respond Yes, on a certain level, but trust me, there’s deeper and more awful. I don’t see the need for most details. I’m reconciled and almost comfortable, with being identified as a seriously mentally ill person. What i don’t want is for people to think of all the things that happened to me as a child every time they see me. What i don’t want is to plant specific images from my childhood in anyone else’s head. They are a terrible burden. And while i do need to blog/journal about it to a certain extent, there’s a line that doesn’t need to be crossed for me or any reader here.

I go to my therapist for the details, and even there, it’s rarely necessary. I went through disclosure many years ago, and it swallowed me whole for a very long time. I clawed my way out of the tiger’s mouth, and have no desire to ever be in its jaws again.

My therapy sessions have been a massive trigger for switching of late. Unfortunately, the way my system copes with triggers is to drink me into a coma (figuratively). I don’t even remember the end of the call, and they were off to the races. I was gone less than a week, but the damage was extensive:
– 2 broken fans,
– cracked mirror,
– holes kicked in bottom of bedroom door,
– broken 50″ television,
– concussion plus massive body bruising.

The shame and guilt are hard to bear, but i’m doing my best, so far. I understand that shame tells me i’m bad, versus guilt telling me i did something bad. The latter is true, but the former is not. It’s a lie that was programmed into my child-brain, by those who would control me to achieve their own selfish ends. I turn my attention then, to shame.
I’ve returned again and again to this in my blog since i learned it, and here i am once more. I suspect i’ll be working on this one for many years to come, but it’s all right, because now i know what to do.

My therapist told me some months ago, that shame is the body’s need for human connection. It may not make sense to anyone else, but it absolutely changed my life for the better. When shame comes upon me, i need another human to tell me i’m not bad. I’ve lived my life shame-based, and it’s such a powerful motivator, such a reflexive, driving force, that i simply can’t get out from under it without help. I require meaningful connection with another person. It’s like wearing a costume with the zipper in the back; someone else needs to unzip me before i can pull it down and step out of it. And i may even need help taking it off before i can walk away and leave it on the floor.

I’ve connected with my husband and son, and through them i’ve been able to let go of all but the self-harm. I hadn’t harmed myself in many years, and a return to this behaviour has me drowning in shame. Plus, the anxiety it brings me when i’m practically at maximum saturation levels already, has that elephant sitting on my chest again.

These last 2yrs of trying to mend the broken connections between my brain and body have been difficult, to put it mildly. The hardest part of it is not to dissociate through the work. To feel what i feel while knowing what i know. I spent years listening to my system, listening to my thoughts as i disclosed what had happened to me growing up. Now i listen to my body, because in an intangible and dare i say, rather esoteric way, my body holds my memories as much as my brain.
And as i say nearly every post, it is the hardest, most exhausting, most painful work of my life.

Therefore, i try not to fret overly about a return of some behaviours i’d thought long over and done with:
– the programmed imperative to GO HOME! when my system is in overwhelm, which involves immediately leaving wherever i’m at and whomever i’m with, and walking at a rapid pace towards the city where my abuse was most severe,
– the loss of days instead of mere hours,
– the involvement of law enforcement,
– hospital stays,
– head-banging and hitting of self.

The self-harm is a tough one to take on, though. It frightens me more than any.

The first time i considered self-harm i was 4yrs old. The first time i can remember banging my head i was also 4. It’s complicated. I consulted the internets to help me define what it’s about, because i knew, but it was so tangled up in my brain i needed help to identify the separate threads so i might unravel them. I know it was partially to punish myself for “being a bad girl”, but it was for more than that. I couldn’t bear the emotional pain i was in most of the time, but i could the physical. So it was a substitution of sorts. Finally, i think i used it to feel something, when i was in a dissociated state.

I learned quickly to make sure i was alone, and also not leave any visible bruises, or bang too hard, lest i leave a bump. My mother knew every bump and bruise on me, as she inspected me on the regular. She knew which ones she’d done, and which weren’t and by whom. The only time i wouldn’t be interrogated over a lump or mark she wasn’t familiar with, was when they were on my knees or elbows. For those, she simply admonished me for being such a klutz.

The head-banging only lasted until we moved away from the city i spent my first 9yrs in. Once she’d traded in her sick, twisted married man for a controllable underage boy, i dealt more with anxiety issues. That was when my trichotillomania began, which is not classified as self-harm, per se. I didn’t have to deal with the banging again until my late 30s, although i did still engage in self-harm prior, through highly disordered eating, binge drinking, and drug abuse. Once i began therapy around 12yrs ago, the head-banging stopped. I may have done so a couple of times after that, but i can’t remember.
To see its return worries me.

I was switched at the time of course, so i didn’t know once i was back in the face. I was doing my regular after-switch body check, and my heart plummeted when i saw the sheer number and severity of the bruises all over me. And the huge ones across my forehead made me want to throw up. My husband told me i’d locked the door to our bedroom and was screaming and bashing around in there while he was at work. Which means he learned through my son. I won’t stray off into that territory, because we’d wander far from what this post was intended to be and do. Suffice to say it made me feel sick, too. Which is when i realised i was probably concussed. I didn’t go to the hospital for a proper diagnosis, but i’ve given them to myself before, i know the symptoms, such as they are (vague and very like coming back from a switch), and i simply tended to myself as if i had one.

I’ve decided to take a short break from therapy. I don’t know for how long – i’m thinking 2wks – 1mth, but i’m going to leave things open to change. Nothing’s firm. This last fall/episode/switch/binge/whatever has scared me. My system, my precious Bits N’ Pieces, are all merely children, regardless of the age they feign. And this was a full-on tantrum. I haven’t destroyed property or attempted to destroy myself like that, in a very long time. I think they’re beyond tired and cranky. And they are mine and my responsibility. >>I<< am mine and my responsibility. I’m still going to be writing, still doing the work, but easing back on the gas pedal a bit. Turning down the intensity. This work will not be stopped, but it can be slowed.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley


Image: Austin Neill