I’m Not A Bitch, Pt. IV

Warning: Contains some indirect references to integration, and refers to child rape and trafficking. This is a positive piece, but make sure you have good support in place.

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So, as i was saying… I’m not a bitch.

But i’ve been told i was one, and called one, ever since i can remember. My mother often exclaimed, “Oh, you little bitch!” when i failed to live up to her expectations, which were unrealistic, unreasonable, and very often unattainable, for my entire childhood. To give you an idea of how high they were, i could cook an entire roast beef dinner when i was 4yrs old.

One time when i was 6, i came home from school and realised i’d forgotten to thaw the liver i was supposed to be preparing for supper, and so i put it in the oven. I didn’t know the plastic container it was in would melt as well, so when the intense chemical smell hit me, i yanked open the oven door and tried to pull out the container, which was stuck to the rack, but managed to drip onto my wrist – a scar that’s visible today.
Her response when she got home from work was, “You stupid bitch!” plus the obligatory beating.

When i would ask for money to participate in a school activity, i was often called a selfish bitch. I only thought of myself, she’s needed new work clothes for years, all i care about is going to the stupid zoo/museum/farm/play, do i think money grows on trees?

And on the rare day when i completely lost my mind and dared to question or correct her, she’d slap or backhand me and call me some form of smartass/smart aleck/smart-mouth, attached to the ubiquitous “bitch”.

I learned that asking for anything, complaining about anything, and questioning anything were all bad and dangerous, but more than that –  they meant i was a bitch. Once i’d learned that lesson anyone could control my behaviour by indicating to me in some way that i was being a bitch. I let toxic people become close friends and allowed toxic family members to maintain contact with me. And i let them all have control over my life decisions and manipulate me into behaving the way they wanted.

Some told me i was the black sheep.
Some reminded me i was only half related to them.
Some pointed out i was only attached by marriage.
Some informed me i was a drama queen.
Some called me a liar.
Some said i was faking.
Some simply acted as if i didn’t exist.
Most treated me like i was the problem.

If you’ve read enough of my blog, you may well wonder how this fits with a self-professed “good girl”.
It is simply one of the gifts of being a multiple. I have many facets to my personality. Some, i’m now discovering, are intrinsically me. Some are aspects i took on in order to please and find relative safety. I have some parts of me that i created to be for me – parts that were on my side 100% of the time. These parts would occasionally come out and get me something that i wanted to have or be someone that i wished i could be, but could not.

They could tell people off. In fact, they could lay a verbal smackdown that left some folks practically punch drunk. They were capable of the silent treatment, a certain stubbornness that wouldn’t allow me to grovel or beg family for anything.  And they were able to keep the wrong kind of intimate relationships out of my life, almost entirely.
When the first person i seriously wanted to be with physically was a girl, they got her for me, in spite of all my religious upbringing, and my mother’s vicious homophobia.

It took them a while to gain power. I’m not sure when they were made/created/born, and if they were around when i was being regularly sexually abused, i’m not aware of it. However, once my mother stopped trafficking me, they grew in influence inside my brain.
They mouthed off to my mother, and stole food from her for us – and took the beating that always followed.
They told opportunistic boys No, when those creeps figured the fat girl would be only too happy to give them sex because i was getting a little attention.
When it was men, they got me the fuck outta there. And there were men.
Of course there were.

They built a wall of protection around me. Once the raping stopped, they began laying bricks. Occasionally someone would get through a hole in my defenses, and they’d brick it up right quick. They drew lines in the sand of me that no one could cross. No one. Kept my need for love and acceptance and understanding and compassion in check. Managed my levels. Made sure no one could sneak in and eat the fruit of the 1 little tree that had survived the violent plunder of my garden.

Pull out this brick, she needs some sun.
Shit, someone’s coming, put it back!
Shhh…

Then i met someone i wanted more than i’d ever wanted anyone — more than the girl all those years ago. I had relationships by pure accident. I wanted companionship, i occasionally wanted sex, but mostly i craved normalcy, and being in a relationship was what society and religion seemed to be telling me i needed to have in order to get that.
But no one ever got passed that brick wall. If the relationship fizzled or fell flat, i was fine in a day or 2, tops.
Then i found myself dating an excellent human, and i took down the bricks, crossed my own line to go over to him, and i pulled him close to me and haven’t let go for going on 24yrs. I found my person, my soft place to fall.
And i fell.

I’d been trying, before i met him. I tried my best sometimes, even. Like when a family member attempted rape, like when my mother died, like when my first son was born. But between not finding the right kind of help with the right person, and running from any hint of a DID diagnosis, i was just spinning my wheels. I couldn’t find any traction. I’d get exhausted and quit for a while, only trying again when crisis would hit.

When i fell in love with him and started building a life with him is when my work began in earnest, and although mental illness and the way my brain works has tripped me up hard here and there, i’ve never not picked myself up and gotten back at it as soon as i was able.
And as building a life with him created safe space around us, i set to rebuilding myself. As per my own specs.

I’ve put in a tremendous amount of work, i’ve suffered setbacks aplenty, and i’ve despaired at length. I’ve lost and/or eliminated a great many people. I’ve stripped myself down to the absolute barest of necessities: air, water, food, shelter, love. HIM. And at one point i was prepared to continue without him, if need be.*
Many times i’ve looked behind me and only seen wreckage, but ever so slowly, as i turned back, tightened my focus on the path directly in front of me and set my shoulder to the wheel, i found my perspective broadened. Each time i turned back i saw less of what i’ve lost and more how far i’ve come – what i’ve gained.

It was tough for me last year, when i thought i’d done all the therapy, and was so dang functional and fine, only to have my body pipe up and ask, then beg, then INSIST that there was more work to do, and it was deeper and more painful than that which came before. I panicked when i saw what i was looking at: to bring together my thoughts and my emotions, that have existed separate from each other since i was a baby.
To feel what i feel while knowing what i know. At the same time.

The last few months have been filled with terror. I lost sleep, i slid into fibro agony, my system worked up into a chaotic froth, bringing with it a constant headache, loosening my hard-won grip over who could be in the face and when – losing control, losing time, that old, internal imperative built into me to GO HOME. A place that no longer exists, and only held suffering and misery when it did. Between the hard switches and the drinking i was doing to cope, it was beginning to look like a stay in The Bin was in my very near future.

But the time and the work i’ve invested in myself and my quality of life have begun to pay off. Panic and terror are not fun to feel, but they don’t actually last for long. These are states of feeling that are intense, and they tend to burn brightly, but fizzle or at least fade relatively quickly. I know from my past that i can ride these feelings through, and they haven’t killed me. And they’ve had a chance to more times than i can count.
My therapist says that no one ever died from feeling their feelings, but they have from not feeling them. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but i can see it blazing bright in my own life. Feeling this stuff won’t kill me, i have that repeated experience to have at least a small amount of trust in. And if doing this chunk of work can bring me an even higher level of function and more opportunities for happiness, helpfulness, and success than i was enjoying back when everything went for shit last year (and my therapist –in whom i also have some not-insignificant trust in– assures me it will), then i’m not just in, honey i’m ALL in.

Now, finally, this is the part where i tie it all together.

Becoming a multiple is what i did to survive my childhood. My system has saved me countless times from losing my life or my mind. Dissociating from what was happening around me was the best i could do, but once the trauma had ended, it became more and more of an impediment to experiencing life on life’s terms, and inhibited me from building the life and the relationships i wanted. It all came to a head and burst when i fell in love and got married. I knew, both from intuition and from every single experience i had with him, that i could trust him, and he would support me as i fell completely apart and put myself back together again. And he did. He has. He will.

I’ve figured out how my brain works, and i’ve gotten to know everyone that lives in there, formed relationships with them that work, and helped them get along with each other. I’ve studied the people around me, the people who left me, the people i left and the ones i let go, and my relationships with them. I’m at peace with it all, and though my current circle is small, it’s tight and strong and healthy and there’s room for more if i so choose. My requirements for relationship are appropriate and well thought out, and i know what i bring to the table.

Clearing a spot for me to do this next-level therapy has not been easy. I had a home safety issue that i’d been avoiding, because i wasn’t getting the help that i’d repeatedly asked for to deal with the problem. I had to get that squared away. Then i had to simplify and streamline my day-to-day routine, because my energy was limited, and my current therapy needed to be my priority. And i also had to ask people in my circle for understanding, for patience, for help. I had to take a hard look at what others were asking of me, prioritise, and say No to people. Dearest loved ones, even. No, i can’t do that, and No, i won’t do that anymore, like ever. I put up some walls and drew some lines in the sand, and when they weren’t respected, i raised my voice and pumped my fists until i was heard. I require this, and that, and ohbtw, that must stop immediately.

I built this safe space for me to live and be and work. And if you’re not on board with that, either you go, or i will. Whatever. I’ll build another place to be safe. I’ve seen a light coming from somewhere just over this next peak, something bright and beautiful.
I think it’s me. Or maybe it’s a mirror.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with mirrors my entire life. I’ve always hated looking into them. I have to be careful not to look into my own eyes. I can glance quickly, but if it’s more than a second or 2, i dissociate. I pull back – retreat inside myself. I’m suddenly further away from the mirror. Quite a number of my Bits N’ Pieces love to look in the mirror, though. They’re curious. What do *I* look like? When i first began getting to know them and stopped fighting all the switching, some of them had a field day. Makeup, clothes, the mirror, and hundreds of selfies. As i’ve brokered a mostly peaceful coexistence with them, i’ve lost a lot of the fear and loathing i had for the mirror, but it can still be a trigger when i’m low or tired or already sliding around a bit.

Yes… I think it’s a mirror. I think i might meet the person i’m creating inside that mirror, and i’ll bet when i turn around i’ll see who i once was – all of them. I think the work i’m doing right now is a pretty huge fucking deal.

Something has happened over the last month and some, and i think it’s empowerment.

I’m moving into all the spaces inside my brain and my body – i’m filling myself up with ME. Sharing space with my system and moving into the cold and barren places, letting in the light. I am the light.

I’m not afraid.
I’m not afraid to piss anyone off.
I’m not afraid that someone i love won’t like who i’m becoming.
I’m not afraid that people won’t “get it”.
I’m not afraid to lose someone i love to this process.
I’m not afraid to be alone.

I’m not a bitch for focusing on myself.
I’m not a bitch for needing or even just wanting things, and i’m not being a bitch by asking for them, or going out and getting them myself.
I’m not a bitch for creating a safe space, and defending it against all who threaten it.
I’m not a bitch for demanding to be heard and respected in my own home.
I’m not a bitch for saying NO.
I’m not a bitch for calling out abusive behaviour.
I’m not a bitch for refusing to take anyone’s shit.
I’m not a bitch for not taking on other people’s burdens.
I’m not a bitch because i’m tall, and strong, and smart, and pretty, and funny, and wise… I’m not a bitch because i take up more room than someone wants me to, and i’m not a bitch if i intimidate the absolute fuck out of anyone.

This is my road.
Move or i’ll move you.

~H~
*Hey, every relationship goes through rough patches, if they stay together long enough. It shone a light on both our flaws and made us painfully aware of our personal baggage that we’d brought with us. But that’s a story for another time.

 

The Garden and the Gate

WARNING: Contains specific references to childhood neglect, physical assault, sexual assault, and incest. This piece is a bit brutal and a bit odd. Be certain you’re in a good place and/or have good support before proceeding.

Note: I’m very vague regarding the current situation i’m dealing with, in order to protect myself and my loved ones. Stuff can and does happen between me and people i care about. One of the most effective ways for me to maintain a decent grip on my mental/emotional health is to talk and write about my life. This current therapy i’m in makes it even more important to be diligent in cleaning the clutter out of my head. I must listen to what my system has to say and be mindful of their thoughts, feelings, and needs.

While i am the one who’s written this piece, i’ve done so in a highly dissociated state. I wasn’t completely switched (i.e. i didn’t lose time), but there were a few particular Bits N’ Pieces that dictated the more vague, analogy-driven parts at the end. It’s like, if my brain was a starship, the inside of my forehead feels like the bridge right now. I’m Data at the helm, and Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and Counsellor Troi are discussing where to go, what course to plot, and at what warp speed to travel. (Okay, i’m not Data. I’m very emotional today. I’m Wesley, which is fine, because i love Wesley. So there.)

**********

I was brought into the world for a selfish purpose. My mother wanted someone to love her, which is not unreasonable in and of itself, but her definition of love was twisted and sick. She expected me, from infancy, to fill all her needs.

I should love her, no matter what. Even if she often failed to meet my most basic needs, like food, clean diapers, protection from harm, soothing, medication/care when sick, vaccinations, play times, clothing that was clean, and proper according to the weather, and warm human contact.

I should love her, no matter what. Even if she slapped me, punched me, kicked me, pulled my hair out, pushed me down flights of stairs, bashed my face into walls, doors, cupboards, stove tops, twisted my arm, pinched me, bit me, bent my fingers backwards, threw things at me, broke things on me, even if she choked and suffocated me, sometimes to unconsciousness.

I should love her, no matter what. Even if she sent me out on the street to beg for money. Even if she sent me to the store to steal food. Even if she rented out my body for favours and gifts and cash.

I should love her, no matter what. Even if she used me as a receptacle for every feeling she couldn’t/wouldn’t express in a healthy way: fear, shame, guilt, and angerangeranger RAAAAGE. Even if i was her vessel into which she poured an endless stream of poison/venom/bile/shit.

I should love her, no matter what. Even if she spoke to me like i was a grownup since i remember comprehending speech. Even when she talked to me like I was her counsellor/confessor/best friend. Even when she had me touch her like I was her husband.

And i did, with my whole heart and mind and body. I loved her; she was my world. She was the best mom ever. And no one ever loved a child like my mom loved me. She’d had such a terrible childhood, i knew. She regaled me with stories* in lurid detail, stories that i might have identified with if she’d not already consciously, purposefully, carefully, and skillfully, helped me split apart and compartmentalise my brain.

How wonderful, how fortunate, how blessed i was to have such a special mother. So unique, so highly evolved, so triumphant over the evil that had surrounded her. So decent, so kind, so good.

She told me what to think, what to do, what to feel, whom to like and dislike.
I obeyed, i followed, i acquiesced, i surrendered, i died. I died over and over again, cutting off little bits of myself and shoving them into some black void inside me. Junk drawers and overstuffed closets and garbage bins inside my brain, and yes, i see now, inside my body too. Chunks of unacceptable personality tossed onto a compost heap and rotting, decomposing into some rich pile of shit that started talking to me when i was alone and in silence. Monsters morphing behind those closet doors, mostly muppet-like, but not all. Some terrifying and filled with rage and capable of destroying anything and anyone. Clawing at the door and rattling the knob, roaring to be set free, seeking apocalypse – annihilation.

I knew not to speak about how it was between us when the 2 of us were alone and behind closed doors, but not because it was bad or shameful or wrong. I knew how she treated me was special and we were highly evolved and incredibly intelligent and meant for a purpose. I knew the rest of the world was meaningless, and other people were dumb and stupid and incapable of understanding our ways.
I was indoctrinated, brainwashed, and Stockholmed. Fully. Completely. Utterly.

In the years since i first fell in love, accepted my multiplicity, got fat, got thin, got mania, got apostated, and lost or walked away from all friends and relatives, i’ve come to realise and own and carve out a reasonably functional and happy life from this washed up driftwood – to chip out a recognisable figure from this implacable slab of marble, this obdurate pile of refuse, this intransigent fabric.

It’s been the hardest work I’ve ever done; i’ve sweated and toiled and ached beyond measure to create and feed and grow this garden of mine, and it has yielded the most beautiful fruit.
Yes, i’m asserting that i’m amazing and colourful and worth a great deal. My fruit is too rare and precious to ever be put on sale, or for my location to be marked as a destination, though. One must be invited here, and my fruit is by offer only, although free to whom i would give it.

Another weird post, i know. It protects me and those i would shelter to be so arcane.
I’m HistrionicaButterfly, and i’m multifaceted AF, and sometimes it pleases and soothes me to be poetic and mysterious.
Today i’m being so because i’m sad and scared.
Someone i love is causing me a great deal of heartsickness and vexation.

I have a dragon who lives in my brain and he’s like an angel with a sword in that he oversees and protects all my lands and watches the gate.
I might have to banish someone i love, and my heart feels so laden and heavy and burdened. It feels as if it’s sinking into a yawning pit of emptiness that lies behind my heart. The ache reaches out of the muscle and into my bones; my sternum, my ribs, my scapulae.

This is not what i was born to be, or how i was raised to behave.
To tolerate is not even a consideration, and yet i’ve considered, and i’ve called it by that name. I’ve extended myself in grace that i was assured i never possessed.
I’m preparing to put my loved one out of this garden that i’d tended so long for my mother. This garden that was never hers and was always mine.
No matter how loved or how once welcome, you cannot dig up my flowers, my plants, or my trees. You cannot shit in my garden, and you can’t pick or partake of my fruit without permission.

I’m prepared to send my Dragon-Angel to swoop down upon this once-welcome visitor –to be swooped up by the talons and be deposited on the other side of my gate– to be guarded against as one might an interloper. I’m prepared to harden my heart until such time as they return with hat in hand, to humbly ask for reentrance.

No one, no matter how much I love them, will ever be allowed to abuse me again, and i will fight anyone for my safe space, no matter who they are or what they mean to me.

I have hope that all will be well, and in not too much time.
Nevertheless, i’m as prepared as i can be to say No and bar them from the safety and beauty of the space that i’ve built inside me and around me.

Y’all Take Care,
Love and Peace,
~H~

*Some that i’ve been able to verify, some that i’ve been able to debunk, some that i’ll never know for sure.

Image: Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Thomas Cole (1828)

Thoughts About a Friend

Well, if it’s so deep you don’t think that you can speak about it,
Just remember to reach out and touch the past and the future.
Well, if it’s so deep you don’t think you can speak about it,
Don’t ever think that you can’t change the past and the future.
You might not, not think so now,
But just you wait and see–someone will come to help you.
~Kate Bush, Love and Anger

I have this friend. We weren’t always friends, but we’ve known each other for a very, very long time. We knew the same people, so i heard a lot of stuff about her and i’m sure she could say the same. We don’t talk about that, though. We don’t talk about those people either. She knows i don’t want to talk about them, and she respects that.

She respects me. She said so last week.
That is one thing that i don’t get in my life – or at least i don’t accept it.
Respect.
I have been a dysfunctional mess for most of my life. The only thing i’ve had going for me is my somewhat charming personality.
But she respects me, and so we don’t talk about those people.
She respects me, and that means that she has respected my space. She has this way about her that i don’t quite know how to describe. She’s calm. She has a soft and gentle voice, that always sounds as if the next sentence might just be sarcastic, although it mostly isn’t. Her eyes are kind and intelligent, and her face always looks so serene. She’s got that Mona Lisa face. Like she knows a lot and doesn’t mind at all that you don’t. Not smug though, she’s welcoming. She makes me feel welcome. I feel like i’m enough and i am okay just the way i am when i’m with her.

As you may know from other posts, i have slowly withdrawn from people, until i pulled out of the human race entirely over 15mos ago. The only people i associated with were my children and their families. I needed time to figure out what i wanted from others, and what i was willing to give. She would come by every few months, even though she knew i wasn’t peopling. I’d send my husband out to cut her off at the pass and i’d go hide in my room. She’d leave coffee and doughnuts. She’d tell my husband that it was okay that i didn’t want to come out, or she was sorry i was sick. A lie that i made him tell her, that she probably knew wasn’t true. Yet she would stop by again a few months later – like it was okay for me to lie.
“Just tell her i love her,” she’d say to him.

One day she came by and i went outside to meet her. I don’t even know how it happened. I was just out there and i was saying Hi. She only stayed for five minutes. It was like she knew that was all i could take. She respected me.
She’s going through some serious crap in her life. I knew it, but i didn’t think i could do anything. I’ve been standoffish with our “group” of people for many years now. I couldn’t imagine what i had to offer that she would want. She stopped by one day, and i let her in the door. All she wanted from me was a hug. There were tears slipping down her cheeks, but we didn’t talk about them. I hugged her for longer than i’d hugged anyone in years, and she said she loved me and she left. It took all of five minutes.

She accepted me and loved me for exactly who i was, precisely where i was at, every time she saw me, all the time she was with me. She made me feel welcome and that i was enough, just the way i was at that moment. I felt like everything was gonna be okay.
And when i knew that i wanted to go back out into the world and try being the person that i really am inside, around real life human beings – she was the first person i contacted. Because she respects me. For who, what, how, and why i am. And i know that is an incredibly rare quality. She is a quality human.

I feel honoured and privileged to know her and so very fortunate to be loved by her.
She is one of the best friends that i have ever had. I respect her more than just about anyone else i know.
It’s her birthday, and i hope she has a great one.

Love and Peace,
To Her and To You,
~H~

People Who Need People

Are you ready for some positivity?
Could you use a hope injection?
I may be able to help.

If you’ve read more than a couple of my posts you probably know that i have struggled with the day-to-days of being a grown-up, and that one of my most important goals is to be more fully functioning on a more consistent basis.
Well, to that end, i have a story to tell you.

I’ll remind you real quick of some major life points to help set the stage (Have you ever noticed that cops always say “real quick”? Could you get off the highway and come over here real quick, ma’am? Could you sit down over there real quick while i have a conversation with your husband? Have you also noticed it’s never real quick at all? You haven’t had a lot of interaction with the police? Oh. Well, never mind then.):

  • the people who made me did terrible things to me,
  • i strove to be good enough to avoid pain,
  • i still got hurt,
  • i developed some rather extreme avoidance skills,
  • my sense of personal identity was all but lost,
  • without a strong sense of self my interpersonal relationships were tenuous and fleeting at best and often contentious and tumultuous.

It’s been a funny few years, and by funny, i mean peculiar rather than haha. I expected to get better at peopling, but instead i found it more difficult. It’s probably because i didn’t want to avoid dealing with certain people and situations by dissociating or using substances anymore. It became excruciatingly difficult to be social. I would either switch immediately, or drink/drug to cope which was more and more frequently followed by a bunch of sliding* around. I wanted friends, real friends who knew the real me, but i couldn’t keep my damn door open – it didn’t take much wind to slam it shut again, and that doorman is a tough sumbitch to get by. If your brain is the gathering place for your friends to hang out and shoot the breeze for a spell, my brain was a crowded karaoke bar where no one listened to anyone else sing, where everyone was just waiting for their turn at the mic. The rotation was filled and there was no room for any new singers.

There was a group of women that i wanted very much to be a part of; they knew how to cut loose and have a good time, but were all successful in their careers and fully functional and involved with their families. I had been hanging out with a younger crowd, twentysomethings not fully established or set upon a firm path. It was an indication of how i functioned on an emotional level, and a reflection of who in my Peanut Gallery was usually in charge, or as i call it, “in the face”. I craved the company of women with whom i had more in common.

But i consistently buckled under the pressure. They kindly invited me to a number of their get-togethers, but i would be so nervous and anxious that i’d pound back the liquid courage (way too much and way too quickly), leaving  myself vulnerable to switch at the slightest provocation. Such lovely and welcoming women every one of them, but i felt unworthy of their company and out of place amongst them. I forced a kind of blithe joviality until the effects of the alcohol calmed me down from my state of near panic.

It all came crashing down on me one night and broke my leg in three places. No really.
I knew then that i needed to withdraw from people and figure my shit out. I had one remaining social obligation that managed to be only a minor disaster, and then i shut ‘er down.
I stopped peopling.
I hermitted in my Little Crooked House.
I hunkered down and i got to work.
No more drinking and drugging to cope, because i removed the stimulus.
I needed to scrutinise my behaviour in social situations, so that i could figure out what worked and what didn’t, what i was looking for and what i was willing to give in return.
When, where, and with whom was i most and least comfortable, and why?

It was a tremendous relief. I didn’t miss peopling. I mean, i didn’t miss anyone at all. I have a group of online friends that provided me with the perfect amount of socialisation, with no touching and from the safety and sanctity of my personal bubble, which at that point stretched out around 2km in all directions. I could stay in general contact with those i’ve interacted with locally by using social media, and no one noticed my withdrawal. Instead of hurting my precious little feelings, i found it liberating to see the world a bit more realistically through my physical detachment. I saw that people had lives of their own, and i was only a teeny, tiny part of their experience that could be removed easily and without a flicker of acknowledgment, let alone any fanfare. It brought my intense anxiety into sharp focus. It was vividly clear to me that my response to social interactions was wildly off-kilter with the significance attached by those around me.

This was more than a consolation, it was a revelation.
I currently have a personal (and very private) issue that i’m dealing with in my life, and this time away from anyone outside my immediate family has freed me to concentrate my attention on it and not be distracted by obsession over social minutiae. It’s enabled me to prioritise appropriately, it’s shifted my focus to where my actions are now better in alignment with my values.

I ventured out to socialise in the flesh a couple of times, to observe my deportment in a local bar run by a safe friend. It was for a set amount of time, with my husband as chaperone, and during low traffic hours. I saw people i knew and spoke with them, but only briefly. I had conversations with my friend and a couple of others i don’t know well, where my aim was to listen more than talk. I recognised all the old familiar thoughts and feelings, but they weren’t as acute – they’d been softened by the light of fresh knowledge and the insight i’d gained. I’d go home and go over my time there, trying to learn more and continue to ease the pressure i felt being in social situations.

I was still very content to stay at home, with only my husband and my children and their families for company, but i knew it was getting on to time for me to go back out into the big, bad world and see if i did indeed have my shit figured out. Recent events in the world of politics had brought me pretty low though, and i wondered if i’d ever want to go anywhere, ever again.

Then along came the Women’s March on Washington, and suddenly i knew it was time.

… to be continued with a flourish, tomorrow

*Not fully switched, but no longer running the show. It’s like standing right behind someone, observing them live my life for me. I’m not generally able to affect whoever is currently in the face, just helplessly watch.

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

Do you really want to hurt me,
Do you really want to make me cry
?
~Culture Club

It’s been a year since i quit socialising. Actually, it’s been more like 2, but i’d tried to do a bit here and there in 2015. It was all a disaster, and convinced me that i needed to do something a little more drastic. I haven’t been out to a major gathering since a wedding last Hallowe’en, or had people in my home for a meal in even longer.

I’m not lonely most of the time. I have a teenage kid still living at home, and the other 2 stop by regularly with the families that they’re building. In the last year, that’s been more than good enough. I have some online relationships that have filled any serious need i’ve felt to interact with anyone outside of them.

I’ve never been good at peopling, i guess. It’s not been for lack of trying. I may have put more effort in to having friends than just about anything else. No long term success, though. I’ve had friends off and on throughout my life, some very close and very dear. None of them though, for a long time. The longest friendship i’ve ever been able to maintain was around 15yrs, and no other friendship even comes close to that one, which is, like all the others save one that has been rekindled, either over, or no longer close.

I accept that it’s mostly been my fault. I accept that it’s hard to be my friend, much like i accept that i’m an odd person – not because i know it, but because i’ve been told it’s so, and the opinion seems to be largely borne out. I don’t feel like i’m particularly hard to be friends with, but based on my track record it seems fairly obvious. Heh. I’m not exactly sure what it is that makes me so weird, either. However, based on how hard it is for me to maintain a relationship, or forge new friendships, coupled with how people look at me and treat me… Some people have even told me right to my face, which i actually appreciate. Especially now, with my resolution to stop reading everyone reflexively; blunt people are less stressful.

I had a job from the time i was very young, and the most important part of it was to behave in certain ways around certain people. Different ways around different people. It hasn’t lent itself well to a strong sense of identity. I wasn’t so good at being myself but i was quite good at being who i thought other people expected me to be.

Well, i thought i was good at it.
Now i’m not really sure.

The harder i’ve worked on myself -you know, my brain and my fucked up life- the more i’ve wondered if that was ever really so.
That i was good at it.
You know, peopling.

It also seems to be that, the healthier and more functional i’ve gotten in my brain and my much-less-fucked-up life, the less good i am at peopling. I get nervous, anxious, awkward. Everything feels forced and i know i’m trying too hard. I feel exposed, naked, vulnerable… I’ll smile too wide, laugh too loud, talk too long, drink too fast. Sometimes all at once. Dissociation to some degree is never far behind. I can devolve in 2hrs or less now.

I’m kind of a train wreck.

So i decided over a year ago that it was time to take a break. I desperately needed to get some perspective, and my body needed me to stop punishing it with drugs. My body is healthier and my vision is much clearer. I don’t always like what i see, but at least i’m not crashing into it full speed, wondering What the heck was that, and Is this the collision i won’t walk away from?

Here is my truth: When the people who created me did unspeakable things to me, it broke me on a level that can never be mended. I know that. I don’t know if i can ever trust anyone enough to let them really know me – even what little i know about myself. I know i’m trying my best, and i know i’ll continue to try, but it may be that i’ll never be able to people very well. Some of those friends that i’ve lost along the way have said they couldn’t live with the wall i have around myself. Others have called me closed, unreliable, full of myself, full of shit.

They’re not wrong, although in my own defense, it’s hard to be genuine when you have no clue who you are, and you can’t let down your walls long enough to figure much out.

So i guess what i’m saying is, Fuck them. Kinda. Not really i suppose.
But they hurt me.
People hurt me.
All the time and even when they don’t mean to.
I think just being around people hurts me a lot of times.
I’m sick of people’s shit and i’m tired of trying to figure them out.

I feel safe in my Little Crooked House, and i’ve almost never felt safe in my entire life.
I still get hurt here, but they’re sorry, and they know me. I guess?
I don’t really know right now, but i’m really fucking trying.

Sorry for all the cursing. Dark night of the soul stuff actually makes me less poetic and more profane.
Love and Peace,
~H~

Ghouls, Goblins, and Bodachs*

*NOTE: A friend suggested that some of my social media postings may also be appropriate for my blog. So here’s one from yesterday. ~H~

 

When i get upset – i want space.
I appreciate your concern, but a quick check-in and an offer to be around if i need to talk is enough. For me, it’s more than enough.

I’m not a touchy person. I only hug if i really mean it, now.
Please do NOT touch me (.) when i’m upset.
Please do not check up on me.
I’m not playing a game, i really really YES RLY want to be left alone.

My emotions used to leak out all over the place, but now i’m getting good at containing them in an adult manner, so my husband and kids know to leave me alone, and i don’t tend to lose it in public anymore.

Before i got this good at managing my stuff, things could get ugly. When i would feel vulnerable and someone got into my personal space without my permission, i could get a bit snippy, or outright lash-outy.

I’m sharing this, not so much for me, but for the friends and family that i’ve seen recently go through this. If you’re like me, i wanna tell you something i’ve learned over the years.

The ones that really care will hear you when you thank them for their concern and ask for some space.
The ones that come back at you for repeated updates, y’know:

Are you okay?
No, no more than i was last time.
Do you want to talk?
No, even less than last time, and certainly not to you.
You know you can talk to me about anything.
Sure, as long as it isn’t personal.

^^^ Those people aren’t asking because they care about you. They’re attention-seekers, drama moths, and chaos addicts.

And the ones that get their nose out of joint, and make sure everyone sees their feigned hurt expressions, deep sighs, and silent treatment?

You brush them off. If it’s in the workplace i know you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, but you give those people a wide berth.
They’re emotional ghouls. They’re like those girls in high school who ignored you at best, or tortured you at worst, who suddenly had their arm around your shoulder and were handing you a tissue when you started crying during gym class. They look at you with glittering eyes and swear they won’t tell anyone. By afternoon classes everybody knows.
They’re like the Bodachs in Odd Thomas, or the Goblins in Twilight Eyes.

Anyway, i know some people i care about have had to deal with that kind of thing lately, and i wanted you to know you’re not alone, and it’s not wrong to tell these people to back off. If they’re worth your time, try telling them they’re being invasive. Maybe they’re treating you the way they’d like to be treated if they were upset. Tell them you aren’t them and you sincerely prefer to be left alone.

And if you’re one of those people that hovers and asks more than once, ask yourself if maybe it’s not more about you when you press the issue. Sometimes, some people do play a game (i know i’ve done it with my husband more than once) where something is clearly wrong and they insist it’s nothing or they say they don’t want to talk about it – but it kinda seems like they really do. Maybe you’ve known them for long enough to know it’s a pattern of behaviour, or you know them to be just generally manipulative, but you’re a nice person and so you always play along…

You can stop playing their game. Take them at their word. If you don’t believe them, just tell them that you’re around if they change their mind and then walk away.

So i ask for space
And you give it to me
The world keeps turning
And i don’t make a voodoo doll of you

~H~