Swallowed Whole

I can’t write, so this post will be dogshit — just so you know.

My system opened wide and swallowed me late last month. I can’t remember 2 full weeks, and i didn’t draw a sober breath. My marriage is a dumpster fire, and my therapy is a nightmare. It’s literally a nightmare. I’m awake, but it feels like i’m trapped in memories, the memories my system saved for me by hiding them in my dreams. I’m inundated with invasive thoughts and pictures of what happened flashing in my mind. It’s like those horror movies where all they have for light is a polaroid camera.

POP!

…zzzzzzzz…

**DISTURBING IMAGE**

POP!

…zzzzzzzz…

**DISTURBING IMAGE**

It happens all day, every day. There’s no getting away from the feelings, either. These children that live in my brain feel it all the time. I made them when i was a child to carry the burden of it all because i could not if i wanted to live, and i did. They’re trapped in those moments and those emotions, and so i feel them now. I’ve pulled up alongside them, close enough to be hit by wave after wave of agony and terror. It’s so awful i haven’t the words to describe it, and i’m not sure i would share them if i did. No one should know this; no one should feel this way. No one — not ever.

But these children that live here with me, do. They’re me, and they’re my little bits; i made them, and they need me, and it’s time for me to go in there and save them. It makes me sick to my very marrow to be as close to them as i am now, but they’re my babies and no one can save them except me. I can no longer tolerate knowing that they’re in here with me, suffering.

And i’m a fucking wreck.

I miss my friends on socmed, the ones I’ve known for 20yrs now, the ones who’ve seen me at my worst and are still my friends… But i can’t bring myself to go on any social media yet. I’m sober and back into a good routine, and that’s about all i can do. Places like Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and Instagram are cesspools. I use them because it’s the easiest way to keep in contact with people i care about that are far away. That’s it, that’s the only reason. Well, i have Reddit because i can get some decent, free advice sometimes, although i don’t have a lot of karma to spend.

I’m so stressed out i almost started pulling my hair again. I caught myself about 5mins into it, and fortunately i was able to stop. I can’t go back to practising trich — it would be devastating. I can’t drink. I can’t drug. I can’t screw. I have to get up close to the parts of me that hold the worst of the feelings and i have to rescue them. Make a safe place in my brain for them, closer to me. I’ve kept them on the outer boundaries of my sanity for long enough. It’s either pull them to me and fuze, or they WILL spill over into the abyss. If that happens, it’s only a matter of time before i follow them.

I joke about being crazy because it’s a word that was used to shame and control me in the past. Using words like crazy and bitch on my terms, takes the power out of them and makes them nothing to me. But make no mistake, i do not want to lose my mind. And my current life situation has me scarily close.

Some of my super-paranoid parts took over in early November. I went wandering in the snow down our country road at around 5am, no coat and no shoes. I was spotted by our new neighbours, who saw a strange woman hiding in the trees. They called the police, but by the time they arrived at the scene i’d scampered off home. I had to disclose some of my situation to both neighbours. I only told them about the bipolar, because DID is a lot for anyone to digest, and it’s intensely personal. I told them my meds needed adjustment. I assured them i’m not at all violent, just paranoid and weird. I made sure they had my husband’s number but also told them no hard feelings if they felt like they needed to call the police again. UGH.

Mortifying.
Humiliating.

I don’t know if I’ll still be married by the end of 2023. I expect i won’t be. I have an appointment in January with a lawyer. I feel some relief about it, but my husband seems determined to change my mind. I still love him very much, but he’s promised to change and be more connected and affectionate a hundred times before… I refuse to put any stock in it. I won’t allow myself to hope. It destroys me a little bit more every time he does it, and i need what little i have left to do this work with my Bits N’ Pieces. I might be alone, but i still want to live.

This week my homework from my therapist is to bring my traumatised kids into the feeling of certainty that i have about some things. Things like: it’s over, they’re gone, none of them can get at me again, and there are some memories that i know are for sure, and others i know were a sick game some of my perpetrators played to scare me. Scare me out of telling, and just generally because they got off on it. Those little bits of me need to lean on my knowing these things because they don’t know those things at all. They don’t believe them, but they’ve come to trust and believe me just enough that it might help them to give them a small taste of safety.

I know how whacked out and freaky this sounds, trust me; i still cringe writing stuff like this.
But i am the head of this system, the mother of these children, and they need me to rescue them.
It’s time for this to be over and for them to come home.
It’s time for fusion.

I’ll try and write more before the week’s out.
Hopefully there’ll be a bit less drama. Heh.

Y’all take care as best you can.
Hang in there, and i will, too.

Peace and Love,
~H~



Offal Stew

Honestly, i don’t know what to tell you. Life is hard and it sucks right now, but it also doesn’t. I want to give you something good, something you can think of when you’re low and it’ll make you feel a little less so. Some bit of experience where you can see yourself and hang on because hey, i am, and i’m a total fuckup… So why can’t you?

But my head is throbbing and i can’t find any interesting words swimming around up there at the moment. I’ve got a headache every goddamn day these last weeks. It is the soup of madness and chaos bubbling and spitting hot broth when i give it a stir. There are those who live in my brain who NEED me to do this work that’s in front of me and there are others whose very ephemeral and esoteric existence is built exclusively around STOPPING me from doing this work.

That probably makes no sense.

Parts of my system are allied with my abusers. That is a sad and scary fact. They drank the kool-aid. They believe i was born for a special purpose. They are searching for the man i called Daddy, and his right hand man, and all the rest of his compatriots and co-conspirators. That sounds romantic, doesn’t it? But that’s just the way i like to write. What those fucks were, were a bunch of predators; perverts and paedophiles who shared information on how to be the BEST child rapist, i.e. how not to get caught and have access to as many children as possible!

This is ugly writing here, and i try not to do any of that anymore. I’m trying to make my story consumable; spicy, but not so hot as to be unpalatable. Your guts might hate you for an hour or 2 and we won’t talk about the burn that awaits your butthole, but the dish was cooked, seasoned and served in such a way that you’d never have guessed you’re eating offal stew.

Today i’m serving up something that’s raw and still squirming.
Today i have no panache.
Today i am a wall of stone-muscles and magma-guts.
Today i cannot hang on to time.

That’s the “suck” part.

The not-suck is that i know i wouldn’t be here if i weren’t progressing. These fail-safes in my brain can’t be triggered by just sitting on the curb watching the parade go by.

I’m in this. I’m not even in the fucking weeds yet and it’s a LOT.
I have to go in and grab my babies away from the terrible men and women that have held them captive all these years.
And holy shit, do i not want to.
But you better believe i will.
The thought of touching them makes my head throb so badly i’ve shut all the light i can out of the house and i’m playing elevator jazz on volume level 4 and i’m wearing sunglasses to be able to look at this bloody keyboard i’m clacking away on, and if i retch one more godforsaken time i think my head might actually explode like that motherfucker in the movie Scanners…

But you better believe i will.

I’ll try to be a bit less… whatever-this-is tomorrow.


IMAGE: Kai-Chieh Chan

Push-Start

I’m pushing myself because i can. Maybe i could have before if i’d tried harder. I certainly tried, but maybe i could have done more. I couldn’t do much. I could barely keep the house together and get my family fed. My hygiene was… Okay.
But i wasn’t writing anything publishable.
And i wasn’t walking.

Those 2 things are the most important to me, the ones i’d immediately rattle off if i were asked what was vital to managing my mental health.

I don’t know what, if anything, has changed. I think it’s more that i’ve gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m in a corner and i don’t take kindly to being cornered — even if i’m the one who’s done it.

I started back walking this week. Just 2km, that’s it. My headphones weren’t working, and i hadn’t set up my new Fit band, but i went. My brain really wanted to use those things as excuses not to go, but it was easy to see them for what they were, so i went. I walked. And then, with that tiny bit of momentum, i walked in the door, sat down in front of the laptop, and i wrote.

Here on my WP blog, i can be a little less demanding and a little less perfect when it comes to the content i post. I’m not trying to be legit, make money, attract the algorithm gods’ attention, or win kudos from top writers and their publications. This is my diary. This is where i let people see who i am and how i figure shit out.

Over the last few days, i have sorted my music and Fit band situations. I’m walking more, and thanks to this blog, i am writing more. I’m not yet creating fantastic new content on my other platform, but i’ve resumed going back over my old WP blog posts and commenting on them and how i’ve progressed since writing them.

They’re like a reaction video on YT, heh. I’m reacting to my own stuff. It’s not terribly original, but it’s keeping me in the game. The added benefit is that i can see how far i’ve come since i began writing. This place got me to admit that i love writing and i want to be a writer. That admission was challenging and a long time coming. I can see what i’ve learned and how i’ve grown, all of which help me through this dratted depression i’m currently in.

This is the easiest that writing has come in a couple of months.

My new Fit band is sending me messages that i’ve been sitting too long. Maybe that wouldn’t have be,en good for me a couple of weeks ago. Now, it’s okay. I’m using it to get myself up and do something, no matter how small. I’ve walked my dog around our yard, done a couple of loads of dishes, scrubbed the tub and tiles, and vacuumed the living room. Yesterday i made 2 carrot cakes. Tomorrow i’ll be preparing for my grandchildren to come for an overnight visit and getting ready for a family Thanksgiving celebration on Sunday.

I got some poetry written. I checked my analytics on the other site, and i’ve got an idea i’ve been sitting on for a publication where i always get good engagement. I’m gonna move into my office and make writing more intentional. Sitting at my desk feels official and grown up. I probably need a bit of that right now.

What i have to do next in my therapy journey looms large on the horizon. I’m now able to think of other things, and i’m no longer frozen with dread and terror. But it is still paramount in my mind because i understand what i’m about to do, and i know it will suck a truckload of shit. What it’s costing me to avoid the work has become untenable. I’ve backed myself into a corner here, too.

ZOOMing with my therapist tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s blog entry might be interesting.
I guess we’ll see.





IMAGE: Mitchell Orr

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

Depression has kicked my ass so hard i’m having trouble doing much of anything.

My house, yard, body, and relationships are basically okay, meaning clean enough, not cluttered or in disrepair, but that’s it.
I’m having a shit of a time writing.
My fibro pain is so bad i’m dissociating to get away from it.
I struggle in conversation; i can participate, but on the inside, i am freaking. out.
My system is banging around in my head so hard that i have a constant headache. The only time i’m not aware of it is when i’m sleeping.

Speaking of sleeping, it’s the only thing that’s going well in my life, which makes me wonder if i got sucked into an alternate universe where it’s Spongebob’s opposite day, every day. Because sleep is always a crapshoot for me. Maybe i’m finally on the right mix of meds? The only problem remains dreaming. I dream all night long, flowing from one dream into another and then another. I wake up to use the bathroom, and as soon as i’m back to sleep, my dream picks back up where it left off. They’re not nightmares, they’re not even particularly disturbing, but they are exhausting. They’re the kind of dreams i have when my stress level is too high.

My body is at the breaking point.

I saw the doctor last week to chat about my last round of blood work. My organs are functioning well, and my weight loss continues. My headaches have become debilitating, so she gave me a neurological exam.

When she was through, she said, “You are the tensest person i’ve ever examined.”

She thinks the problem might be stress, and i’m inclined to agree. The band around my forehead began tightening as soon as i started typing this post, and it’s already at the point where i’m having trouble concentrating. I’ve decided to cut this post short, but i will continue it tomorrow. It might be the only way i can produce consistently for this blog.

Some people in my brain do not want me to do this work i’m doing with my therapist. I was never supposed to talk about what happened to me, let alone survive this long. I’m coming up against some parts of my system that are allied with my abusers. I’ve spent years cleaning out the horde in my brain, and they don’t like it. I’m integrating (becoming fully co-conscious with my system), and some of the bits that split off when i was little have been… I don’t know what to call it. Reabsorbed?

It’s hard to describe; it’s all so esoteric.

I’ll elaborate tomorrow.

IMAGE: Caleb Woods

What I Was Pretending Not to Know

I’m trying to write on my other platform, and i can’t. Well i can. I can still write poetry, but prose creeps along like molasses in January. I also have a couple of serious essays i’ve been working on that have ground to a halt.

I don’t have writer’s block. I have lots of ideas and several pieces in various stages of development that i like, i enjoy writing them, and i think (hope) they’ll be good. I’ve popped out some new writing along the lines of humorous commentary, which i’m pleased about. I have a wry sense of humour that i’ve been attempting to find a place for on my other platform, and getting accepted as a writer for a couple of the publications i enjoy has boosted my self-esteem. Which, if you follow my blog, you might realise was needed, or at least desired.

But i’m having trouble writing. Like, slipping into that bashedy-bash-bash flow that feels like free chocolate and new kicks were delivered to my door. Or when it’s so good, i feel like Snow White in the forest with all the forest creatures gathering around… It’s missing. I can sit at the laptop, pull up a piece, read what i’ve written so far, edit a bit and add another paragraph or 2… And i’m done. My brain seizes up. My Bits N’ Pieces infernal racket plays a part in that for sure, but also i just feel stuck, somehow.

Well, after my last time loss, my husband insisted i get back to therapy. He didn’t have to push, though, i wanted to talk to her. I’d cancelled an appointment as i was finished detoxing, and i wasn’t sure why. I hadn’t gotten into too much trouble drink-wise, and i was feeling okay to talk. But i still ducked it.

Being as dissociative as i can be, means knowing something while not knowing it can be on a whole other level. I think we can all ignore the truth that’s in front of us sometimes. I think feigning ignorance is a way to avoid any number of things that we might not want to face. Me, i do that shit like so many other folks, but Dissociative Identity Disorder can make it harder to be aware that i’m doing it because i have deeper and darker places to hide the knowledge. It can be kept from me by other personalities, some of whom have a great deal of power in who i am and how i operate, most of whom are difficult and crafty.

I saw my therapist yesterday. I told her frankly that i’m struggling with suicidality, and i told her my plan. She looked at me for a few seconds -long ones- and asked me a couple of pointed questions:
When is your birthday?
How old are you now?
How did you feel about this spring?


Asking those questions might seem weird. My therapist knows these things, at least approximately. She was asking me to access information that she knew i already had. Things i know that i’m pretending not to.

I was born into servitude. My mother had me to satisfy her own selfish desires. She wanted unconditional love and a vessel into which she could pour all the feelings she didn’t want to house in her own body, like shame, rejection, fear, and especially anger. It didn’t stop there, though. I don’t know how, although i could hazard a guess, but she came across people who wanted what she had — specifically, me. Men who would give her their attention, along with gifts and money. For me.

As open and vulnerable as i’ve been about my childhood trauma, i’m rarely literal in how i refer to specifics, especially the sexual abuse. I prefer to imply, allude to it, and use euphemisms and metaphors. What happened to me was brutal and ugly and horrific. It took years for me to use the words that tell what happened to me in the most simple and succinct language. Words like grooming and indoctrination. Words like trafficking and rape.

I was taught to lie, hide, and deny. I was told i was dreaming, that i had an overactive imagination, that i was a compulsive liar, overly dramatic, and an attention-seeker. I did what i was told, and i believed their lies and internalized their abuse.

Their lies.
Their abuse.

All these years i’ve just been dealing with my mother. I told myself it would be enough, because she was at the root of it all. It was hard to admit my mother was an abuser. It flies in the face of all my programming — all her programming. It was hard to accept my DID diagnosis. Not just because it’s fantastic and controversial. Not only because television and movies portray multiples using harmful and inaccurate tropes.

It’s also because my mother knew i was a multiple, and she knew because the men she trafficked me to, knew.

And now i’m going to write about what i don’t write about: the paedophiles that used my mother to get at me.

Don’t misunderstand me here, please. I’m a skeptic. I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
Some things about my childhood are provable, but some i’ll never know for certain. If it cannot be proven, i put it on a continuum of likelihood. I look for patterns of behaviour. I use what i’ve learned about other victims and their stories, again looking for patterns and probabilities. I try to state regularly the things that i’m not sure of and what i’m only guessing at.

So, consider this fully caveated.

It is my belief, although i do not know (knowledge is a subset of beliefs), that there are very “successful” paedophiles out there. They learn from each other, and yes, i believe there are some that form groups. I’m not talking about some massive worldwide cabal, but it is my personal, lived experience that some hang out together, and even abuse, together. Some paedophiles know about dissociatives like me. They look for qualities that might make a child more susceptible to dissociation, like long-term, preexisting trauma. Children like i was are the paedophile’s unicorn.

I was already shattered when they found me. I was already on the far end of the dissociative spectrum; i had alters. And they knew how to make more. So they did. They made alters in me to hide what was happening. More than that, though, they made them complicit in the abuse. They made parts that would ally themselves with them — my abusers.

I know that this is some whackadoo territory, so let me reiterate: i don’t know this, i only suspect it’s true. I have a therapist who is tops in her field, who confirms my suspicions based on her treatment of others who’ve been through similar extremes. I also have memories that back this up, although i know very well the unreliable nature of such, and the danger of confirmation bias that ever-looms over my interpretations.

So when my therapist asked me those questions, i stopped ignoring what i knew.
I thought i could get away with just dealing with my mother. But i can’t.
I’m going to have to deal with the men, especially the man i called “Daddy” and his best friend. There were other men, and some other women too, and i’ll work through what and whomever else i must.

There’s so much more about how i got to this place and why i believe these things, but i don’t know if, when, or how i’m going to write about them. This is quite enough for now. It’s taken me days to write this much — there is powerful programming coming up against me. I’ll be thinking about it and processing it with my therapist, making sure it’s the right thing for me to do and setting up solid, safe boundaries before i go any further with this part of my story. No matter what i decide, i’ll keep writing about the journey.

I feel like Michael Corleone, fuuuuck.

I hope this greases the wheels a bit and can get me writing more smoothly again.

Y’all hang in there. I’m doing my damnedest.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: K8

Feed Me Tacos and Tell Me I’m Pretty

Busy. Buuuusy, busy busy busy BUSY.
This is new for me, and potentially dangerous territory. I have to be careful. Always mindful. So far i’m mostly okay, but i must be willing to cut back or stop entirely if my current mania, which feels like it’s winding down, ramps back up.
This is it though. Busy with writing, working, relationships, busy with life. I’m not overwhelmed, i’m just capable of doing more. I’m not frozen, immobilised by my past traumas anymore. This is more of the life i wanted – and i’ve worked hard to get here.

This is a catch up post: random fill-ins, observations, things i’ve learned, maybe a thing or 2 that are bugging me… We’ll see. I’ll just get to it and see what i come up with, eh?
Off we go.

**********

First, my teeth. They needed cleaning, and i have 1 tooth that’s become rather sensitive. It doesn’t hurt all the time but, it hurts. I’ve had all my wisdom teeth removed, and lost a couple of other ones too, so i’m not keen to lose any more. Since spring 2020, i’ve avoided any in-person health care as much as possible, and that, along with dentophobia (also known as odontophobia) has kept me out of the chair for around 2yrs. I should say i was once deemed phobic, but therapy brought me down a few notches to what i’d say is more of an intense anxiety now.

I call to make an appointment with the office that helped me with exposure therapy, and patiently handled all my tics and quirks until i could get my dental needs addressed relatively easily. I tell them i’m fully vaccinated and ask to see a hygienist who is, also.
Dead silence.
I’m eventually informed that they won’t be disclosing their status.

After some time and information, i come to understand why, even though i don’t exactly agree. I’m getting twisted up, full of tight knots, and having trouble breathing. I’m weepy and irritated, but i begin problem-solving. What am i going to do, if my teeth need attention, but every office has this stance?

I go to my friends on social media and ask for input. For one, posting about what i’m dealing with calms me, and getting it out of my brain unclutters my thoughts and narrows my focus. After soaking up their support and gathering suggestions, i disconnect from everything and spend quiet time with my husband and pets. A quiet night with loving connections and fun distractions is what i need, and while i don’t sleep much, i sleep a little.

In the morning i feel ready to try and figure out something that will work for me. Unexpectedly, someone reaches out privately, and i’m able to find a place to go.

At the appointment, i try not to say anything about my anxiety and my trauma history. I did that with the last dentist, and it worked well, but i wanted to see if i could go in to the new office and not need to announce all my problems in order to feel safe.
I couldn’t.

I was clearly in distress, so i disclosed as little as possible to the hygienist, who was understanding and kind. I don’t feel like i failed. I’ll tell whomever i need/want to about my mental illness, it was just a wee test. I’m not ready for that yet i guess, and i might not ever be, which is okay.

She said my teeth and gums were in excellent condition, especially for someone who hadn’t had her teeth cleaned in so long. Then the dentist came in to discuss my x-rays, and here’s the suck: See, i have Bruxism, which is excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching. I grind my teeth when i’m sleeping, and i clench my jaw during the day. I can’t wear night guards because i destroy them. I’d been on Botox injections in my masseter (jaw) muscles for a couple of years, and it had helped tremendously. However, pandemic anxiety has kept me from getting them.

The dentist told me i’m cracking my back molars and need 2 crowns, or i’m going to lose them. Further, she said my tooth sensitivity is likely due to the Bruxism as well. She’s recommending to go back on Botox, and also to get dry needling. I also have bony growths under my tongue due to the nighttime clenching, and it might be partially to blame for my hearing loss.
It’s a lot.

I have a quote for how much it’ll cost, and a general idea of how much insurance will cover. I’m taking things a step at a time and not freaking out, but it’s clear this can’t wait any longer than it has to.

So i have anxiety about dental work and SARS-CoV-2.
I asked for what i wanted, set boundaries, managed my emotions, and went to my support system to get me through. I lost a good dental office, but it’s okay. They did what they felt they had to do and so did i. I have a new office that seems pretty decent so far. I definitely appreciate the hygienist.

This brings me to another bit i want to post about.

**********

I like compliments.
Actually, i love compliments.
And i don’t just love them, i thrive on them. They boost my self-esteem, creativity, productivity, and imbue me with a level of calm and confidence that i don’t have without them.

Growing up i got the message that i should be humble. Especially because i was only worth what i could do for my abusers, and they wanted to keep me down so it was easier to control me. But i received the same message from those who were good to me, and my religious community, too. I saw other good and “godly” people blush at compliments, and say things like, “Oh, you’re too kind,” and “It was nothing, really,” and “I just helped,” and “It was all so-and-so’s doing.”

I learned that the proper thing to do was to deflect, to give credit to someone else, to look flustered and embarrassed and squirm uncomfortably while clearly forcing oneself to say, “Thank you.”

So i did that – i internalised what was modeled for me.

Therapy showed me that i’m a people-pleaser. I fawn, i toady, and i try to read everyone, to anticipate their moods and needs. To riff on a terrible B movie that i love, i was there to eat humble pie and kiss ass.*
I did it all to be accepted, get approval, and avoid rejection. Thanks to my mother’s manipulative influences, what i did could verge on cozening, although it wasn’t consciously done. What i did understand was that compliments worked, that most people liked them, but that i wasn’t supposed to, because it made me conceited and “full of myself.”
Hello cognitive dissonance.

Once again, continued therapy helped me figure it out. The culture i was raised in, along with abusive parental conditioning, had stifled many aspects of my personality. I’d buried them in self-preservation, and any time they made an appearance i felt deep shame, often added to by those around me:

Who do you think you are?
Do you think you’re special or something?
You think you’re better than everyone else!


I did not. In fact, i’d internalised the message that i was bad and disgusting and worthless.
But thankfully, tucked away deep inside, i had a beautiful, marvelous, amazing and indomitable spirit.
I was a survivor. I wanted to live.

Therapy helped me set myself free.

Over the last year and a half or so, i’ve been well enough to help my husband at work. I don’t do it all the time, but when he needs an extra hand, i can go and lighten his work load a bit. He works in construction, so it’s physical labour. I have a couple of chronic pain issues, so the cost to me is not small, although i’m glad to pay it. If i go and assist him, he doesn’t have to train and pay someone else. But there’ve been times over the last few months where i’ve snapped at him, and it’s not for any obvious reason – i’m just churlish, and it’s not okay.

I apologised every time, but my snarkiness continued, and i needed to figure out why. I’m not generally an asshole, but i was definitely acting like one. Through paying close attention to my thoughts and emotions, i found that it was occurring most often when i felt like i wasn’t doing a good enough job. So, i started telling him this, and he’d respond that it was fine.
But i still felt petulant. I felt like a child, and became aware that my system** was at play.

I did what i do when my Bits N’ Pieces are particularly active: i asked them what they want.
It was like i’d pulled that old nubby metal chain that hangs from a dusty lightbulb in movie attics…
The light shone, i knew what the problem was, and went to my husband and told him:

“I need you to tell me i’m doing a good job. When you take a look at what i’ve done and say nothing, i assume it’s not good enough, and you’re not saying anything because you don’t want to hurt my feelings. I would like you to say nice things about my work; i need to know i’m doing well.”

My husband is very quiet. He was raised by parents who were emotionally unresponsive, and he has difficulty accessing his own emotions as well as understanding others’. It’s not natural for him to consider his or anyone else’s emotions. However, he’s been open to learning, and he makes an effort to meet me where i’m at, emotionally. I had to let go of the destructive belief, “if he really loves me, he’ll just know.” Once i was able to ask for what i wanted, we’ve both been able to work on me getting it.

In other words, he’d forget to praise me for my work.
I had to quash that silly romantic notion for the thousandth time (it’s dying a hard death – think Paul Ruebens in the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), then go to him and ask:

“Am i doing okay? Do you think my work is good?”

He’d respond with a “Yes! I’m sorry, i forgot. Yes, you’re doing a great job, thank you! I appreciate your help. You’re helping me a lot.”

And just like that, something relaxes inside me. My system gets quieter and i feel strangely warm and glowy.
My mood improves and i have more energy. Time stops dragging and i feel more able to do the job. I have more confidence that i can do it correctly. I feel valuable and important.

Compliments, man. I like compliments.
My BFF says, “Feed me tacos and tell me i’m pretty.”
‘Bout sums it up.

Let’s give my adventures in dentistry a call back now, shall we?

When i was sitting in that chair, a new-to-me chair in a new-to-me office, with a hygienist i don’t know and my pockets filled with anxiety and my body tense with stress – she said nice things about my teeth. She said nice things about ME and how well i’ve taken care of my teeth. She casually praised me and immediately i could feel myself softening.

I’m doing okay.
I’m doing a great job.

It’s going to be all right, H. Breeeeathe.


**********

This post feels good and right. I don’t need or want to muddy it up with the stuff that’s bugging me lately.
I think i’m cruising on the memories of those compliments, you know? Heh.

I’m going to leave it at that, then.

Y’all take care as well as you can.
You’re still here, so you’re doing okay.
You might even be doing great, consider that one!

Now i want tacos.


Love and Peace,
~H~

*From They Live: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And i’m all out of bubblegum.”
**If you’re a new reader, welcome! When i refer to my system, i’m referring to my DID diagnosis.

IMAGE: Sidral Mundet

Fatigue

Today i spoke with my therapist. She called me last week at the same time, but i’d forgotten we had an appointment and had scheduled something else that i couldn’t easily cancel. Fortunately she cut me a break and moved it to today with no penalty. Phew. I knew last week as soon as i heard her voice that i needed to talk to her. I felt it so keenly i had a little cry about it when i hung up the phone. I wanted to talk to her about what’s going on with me. I needed to know if what i’m feeling and where i’m at is okay.

I mean, it is okay, whatever it is, but sometimes i need her stamp of approval. I just do.

So she asks me how i’m doing and i say, Well, i’m alive, so that’s something.
That sounds rather dire, so i quickly add, There’s nothing wrong exactly, but i am tired and my mood is so low. My ass is draggin’, and i have to make myself get out of bed or off the couch to accomplish anything. I went over my check list with her:
– my house is clean,
– i’m clean,
– meals are prepared,
– the dogs are walked,
– i’m writing,
– i’m meeting small goals around eating and exercise.

She asks, “What would happen if you did nothing?”

I’d drown in a sea of guilt and self-hatred.

See, i know i can do these things. I might not be capable of much more at the moment, but i can do these things. I just feel heavy and cranky and out of sorts.
I’m in fibro flareup due to my return to exercise, but i expected that, and i can get through it. I can weather that little pain-storm. I can cut back on some household chores. I can slow down on the gardening. And i can ask for help. I live with 2 grown men who can pick up some slack.

As we’re talking about these things she suddenly asks me, “Do you feel restless?”
YES, i answer, without even thinking. YES!
I want to get out there and start testing myself; this new, mindful grownup that i’ve become.
I’m looking for people i can connect with and learn from.
I want to know people that will challenge me to be better.
I want to contribute to my community.
I’ve done a lot of growing inwards – i’m ready to grow outwards, now.
I think.
You know, tentatively go for a walk in these spiffy new shoes and see where they take me.

Yes, i have pandemic fatigue. I am typical, much to my chagrin.
I can find solace and even some encouragement in that, though.
If i’m this sick of it all, it must mean i’ve been doing it right, right?
I’m excited to get back out there and experience life as a fully present human!
As someone who doesn’t care nearly so much what other people think.
As someone who has good boundaries and will enforce them.
As someone who won’t let old fears keep me from doing things.
As someone who has plenty to contribute to the world around me.

I’m growing up, finally. And some of this is growing pains. It’s probably a big part of the reason why i’m so tired. This is all new to me. I would fade in and out of various levels of dissociation all day, every day. It takes a great deal of energy for me to stay present and mindful. I’ve got to manage my physical issues, my mental ones, my relationships, the day-to-days of running a household… All while trying to learn and grow, set and meet goals, prepare for the future, and expand my sphere of associations.
It’s a lot, and i have admiration and respect for anyone who does all of this.

That’s all i can do, today. My brain is tired and it’s shutting down the write-y/thinky parts. Heh.

Gonna jump on the treadmill and listen to some tunes.
Y’all hang in there as best you can.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Misho Tektumanidze

Dream Shifts

This post might only be for me, but i’m sharing it just in case. I’ll put it in a new category, labelled Dream Journal. It’s weird, but what’s new?

So, i guess i’m dream-journalling again:

Been struggling with insomnia, and when i can sleep, it’s either for 8, 10, 12hrs, which is uncharacteristic, or frustrated tossing about and cursing, punctuated by brief, unsatisfying dozes.

And always whatever sleep is filled with dreaming, and the days, with headaches. The headaches can be mild, like an ache in the base of my skull that spreads cloudy pain in a band around my forehead. An asteroid belt orbiting my brain. There are worse ones though, and they’ve been more frequent. The band tightens and makes my brain feel like it’s swelling inside my skull, there are screws of intensity at my temples. These days those are near-constant. I can feel my eyeballs, 2 hot stones that bounce around and make my sockets radiate ache.
Plus, my dreams are escalating.

After weeks of struggle, i’m thinking my dreams are telling me they have something to tell me. Maybe they’re trying to get my attention. Weird, not-my-usual sort of dreams have been happening. I’m remembering a lot more of them too, when for years, outside of maybe a dozen or so a year, they were like trying to grab wisps of smoke upon waking.

I spoke of my dreams just a few posts ago, in “Mindful Dreaming”, so this journal will only include mention of dreams or fragments of, that i’ve had since.

Dream #1:

– Husband and i are at the neighbours to pick up something i left the last time i was there. They are wealthy, hospitable people, and invite us to stay for a cool drink by their pool. Hubby obliges with the man of the house, poolside, and i proceed to the kitchen with the lady. She’s kind, petite, elegant, the epitome of gentility and graciousness. We speak as those who don’t know each other well, but like each other much. We bring a plate of snacks out to the men, whose number has grown to 3. I sit beside the one that’s mine, who’s got a 6-pack of beer at his feet, and is tucking into his second. Odd, because he rarely drinks, and when he does, it’s only a couple, enjoyed slowly.

I’m looking around at all the lovely things they have, so tastefully decorated and well-maintained. Then i’m talking to a few other women and we are no longer by the pool, we are in a gorgeous living room. It’s sunken, with deep pile white carpeting. There are banisters providing a broken border on 3 sides. One side provides entrance to a luxe dining area. There are tables laden with an incredible array of desserts, including what look like driftwood logs that have split open long ago and spilled their contents. But the logs are made of chocolate, and what spills out are dozens and dozens of the most delectable looking chocolates – a veritable chocolaterie. And there are exquisite tea cakes of every imagining, served on tiered plates made of fine china and gold. I make a note to GTF over there and get me some as soon as this person stops chattering at me.

One side of the room steps up and opens to a door leading to a hallway, which i know leads to other apartments like this one, although none of the rest have a pool, and this couple has the best apartment of all. (We don’t live there, we live in our own, much more humble home next door.) The door suddenly opens, and this guy comes in, looking like he just walked in from a retirement community in Florida. He’s very animated and blustery, and he emotes to the whole room about how he’s confessing that he’s the one who stole from Mister’s humidor. Further, he states that he’s not sorry, and proceeds to steal another box of cigars and runs back out, giggling gleefully. Mister laughs and says to the group of us, which has become more like a crowd, that he isn’t going to bother himself with that.
At which point, conversations and indulgences resume.

I then hear a voice coming from my right, and i cringe immediately because i know who it is. My mother is sitting in a chair above the sunken area, at one of the openings. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but i know it was bemoaning her life. I see she’s settling in to a speech: she sighs dramatically and stretches back. Her legs open, exposing her panties, and her gathered top comes undone, but she only pays it the barest attention. As she’s sighing deeply and fixing her soulful eyes on us, she makes a half-assed attempt to hold it up with her hand, but it falls open on one side, exposing her breast.
I said something like, This didn’t last long, and get up and head over to “handle” her. I’m burning with embarrassment.

Suddenly Missus gets my attention and hands me a beautiful piece of clothing. Taking it from her and turning it about in my hands i see it’s old fashioned type knickers, but the kind we wore in the 80s, that have a frilly sleeveless top attached. These aren’t ridiculous though, they’re perfectly stitched, frothy perfection. She tells me they’re a bit big for her and she thought that i might like them. I chuckle at her and say, A bit? and Thank you! Then she hands me a piece my own lingerie that i recognise immediately. I wondered aloud how the heck she found them, but that got lost as she handed me more lingerie, all in a rosegold satin pouch. I thought it contained one thing, but it was a complete matching outfit. Tasteful, well made, and obviously expensive. Then i saw there was another one, and another. Every time i finished looking at one, there would be another underneath it. They were all as exquisite and detailed as everything else, and i still remember many, incredibly minute details, which is odd for a dream, i think. I mark as of this writing, that while every outfit i saw was of a different colour: white, cream, gold and black, only one mostly white set, had any red, and that was merely a few stripes along with some black ones. There was nothing aggressively sexual – it was more like the wedding trousseau of a lady of some means.
I also mark that everything was a very average size, and i wasn’t worried about any of it fitting me, which has been the case for most of my life – whether asleep or awake.

I’m holding them up for the assemblage, and a beautiful woman who’s standing over a sofa filled with other ladies and talking animatedly with them, oohs and ahs, and comes for a closer look. It’s Reese Witherspoon, and she’s a dear friend of the lady of the house, and a minor one of mine.

I wake up.

Comments, Thoughts, Meanderings, Ponderings*:

– There is a quality in many of my dreams that particularly stands out in this one. I often have a tonne of backstory with both the people in interact with, and the places i go. I don’t know if it’s like that with other people, as i’ve never asked. In fact, i don’t think i’ve told anyone this before. There are long histories that are very clear and intricate, and well-known to me while dreaming, that mostly fade upon waking. Lately though, i’m starting to remember them, as i have here, although not quite as intense.

For instance, there are 2 trailer parks i’ve visited repeatedly: 1 is my own childhood home, but the other is an old, rundown, and vaguely sinister one with only a few, set far apart, with large, equally unkempt bits of land, where once were kept chickens, maybe rabbits, definitely sad, old dogs on chains in the hot sun. I’ve been there countless times, but never in my waking life.
Thankfully.
I don’t care to visit my childhood one at all, either.
Brains, huh?

– I think it’s obvious all the clothing is significant.

For one, the fact that i don’t fret about my size or the size of the clothes, which are obviously NOT plus-size, speaks volumes to me. It confirms that my image of myself IS changing. The last time i lost a lot of weight, i couldn’t see it. I still had what i now refer to as “fat eyes”. It’s like how i see other friends looking at pictures of themselves from years ago and saying God, i thought i was so fat back then, but i sure wish i was that weight now. Poor self-image, coupled with eating, food, and body/sex issues, made sure i basically couldn’t see myself realistically.
Screw lousy parents, and screw mean girls and bully boys, too.
Just sayin’.

For another, i think it’s significant that everything is tasteful and demure (as far as lingerie goes, heh) and beautifully made, and very expensive. Except the panties of mine that she found. They were more bold, say? Some might say bawdy. This lovely, sweet and elegant lady that everyone liked, was giving me something of hers, and then an incredibly generous gift of so much more. As i stated some time back in my piece about my husband’s and my relationship regarding intimacy (it wasn’t a big TMI, it was more vague references and euphemisms, also heh), we have stripped ourselves back to our beginnings, to figure out what we like/want, and don’t like/want; that includes as sexual beings. I won’t get too personal here, except to say i’m experiencing myself in a way expressed by those pretty, frilly, softly coloured, luxurious items.
I think it speaks both to who i am, and what i’m worth.

– Next, what about the barging in, rude dude?

About this, i have no clear inclination. I’ll have to marinate in all the questions i have for a bit. It’s like no one was put out by his loudness, or brashness, or confession, or his continued inappropriate behaviour. Well now, writing that out certainly gave me some ideas.
That’s why i’m doing this.
Is it me, and that no one minds my mental illness, my strange ways of behaving, my quirks and oddities?
I’m also reminded now that no one reacted to my mother at all.

– Let me tell you about my mother.

Just kidding. I’ve probably shared way too much for anyone’s level of comfortability or interest about my mother, but her appearance in this dream is significant, regardless.
It’s one of her rare appearances where she’s not the size she was when she died, around 500lbs. She was more of her size when i was 6 or 7, i’d guess around 170 or 180 (for 5’8″), which is not much over, in my opinion. She was younger and still had her looks. She was a pretty woman, before what was inside her began rotting her outsides.

She was removed from the rest of us.
She was above us.
She didn’t look at me or address me directly.

I was embarrassed, yes, but it wasn’t like in my childhood. The feeling i had was more like how one might feel when a sick relative who can’t help themselves does something. Like when i’ve been in full mania, walked up to random people, and asked them to score drugs for me. I wasn’t angry, either. She usually pisses me right off in my dreams of late – and i tell her so, which has been therapeutic as heck. But no, i was more resigned to the fact that my afternoon fun was over because i had to get her out of there and take care of her.
Weird.
Weirder still, but easier for me to ken, was the interference of the lady of the house.

Does the first mean that my rage and pain are finally dulling some? I mean, they have faded over years of therapy, but this new work i’m doing has brought the feelings back. It can feel fresh and intense at times. Am i letting go of things? Is my brain doing that, or my body, or both? And if it’s both, is it because i AM mending the connection between them? Something to ponder.

And further, who is the lady of the house?
That will require some time and more writing still, methinks.

Every single night
I endure the flight
Of little wings of white-flamed
Butterflies in my brain
… every single night’s alight with my brain
~ Fiona Apple, Every Single Night


*I’ve titled that as i did, because it’s what my therapist, the wonderful Ms T, asks me at the end of every session. Seems apropos.

 

 

Love Goggles

I think i’m having an epiphany.
Are you allowed to have those when you’re down a rabbit hole and swimming around in a bottle?

I don’t know, but my inclination is No. It’s not legitimate. You are in your cups and so you cannot trust any thought or feeling you have.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
~ Inigo Montoya

This has been the hardest year of my adult life. No, really. I went back to therapy, and BAM! my beloved Ms T tells me i’m looking for homeostasis, in other words, a return to what i was meant to be under ideal circumstances. The word some might use is integration, but for me it isn’t that. That word means an end to the split off parts of me that saved my life. They made a childhood full of torture, survivable. Yes, they make me (diagnosably) crazy and frustrated and put me in embarrassing situations and make messes i have to clean up. Yes, they drive me nuts (diagnosed). But they stepped in, when i was a child, and took unspeakable, excruciatingly painful, evil things so that i didn’t have to. I owe them a debt i can never fully repay. Yes, i know they are me. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or superior here, but in all my efforts to communicate my experiences, i’ve come to believe that no one can fully understand what it’s like to be a multiple unless you are one. (And thank you, for every bit that you do get, and/or at least extend yourself in the effort.)

Homeostasis means healthy, to me. My body and my mind working at peak capacity. So, my Bits N’ Pieces will still be a part of me, but no longer able to take over the face and cause difficulties. No more lost time. No more reflexive disappearing. I will still feel them and maybe even hear them in my brain, but they will just be for me. No one else will have to encounter them, or deal with them. I am not in danger anymore. I’m in a safe, good, healthy place. I want them to know and feel that, and i want to take good care of them, like my children (they are), for the rest of my life.

It’s a lot of work, and it’s constant. The choice to be present and feel my feelings, experience my physical sensations, and think my thoughts in real time, is all the time. It never ends. I’m always exhausted. I struggle with insomnia, but when i can sleep, i can sleep for 8,10,12hrs straight. I have to commit and recommit to what i’m doing every day, all day.

And then this pandemic hits.
It engages me on every level i’m working on. I’m trying to be a better, kinder, healthier human, and it challenges me at every point.
People not thinking what i think they should think.
People not doing what i think they should do.
Trying to escape from religious and tribalistic thinking confronts me at every turn.

A couple of posts ago i talked about seeing people through love-goggles. It’s been seeping into me ever since. As i do the work in front of me, i’m learning who i am as a person. Shucking off all the protective measures that are like reflex. This isn’t just about my system, it’s about every breath i’ve ever taken. I had to fight for my life from before i could walk or speak. This stuff is ingrained. It’s my skin. My armour is my skin, my breath, my heartbeat, my blood. Every minute of every day, for almost 2yrs now, i choose to let go. To trust. To believe. To aspire for better and actively work towards it. To see myself for who i am and acknowledge it to others.

And this pandemic, now. FFS.
It has neon-signed every issue i have. It has Sisyphused all my burdens. I’m in constant crisis.

I’ve found the blessing in it. I had to. I want to live, and more than that, i want as much quality of life as i can get. Yes, i dare it. I want more, and more, and better. And this is what i’ve learned from doing the work. There is more, and better, and i can have it.
But it requires great effort and intention.

So, the pandemic. Yes, it highlighted all my issues and exacerbated the stress i was already under. And i backslid into old ways of thinking and acting. I was angry –enraged, even– at everyone who wasn’t doing what i thought they should do. I lashed out, with provable justification, at everyone who wasn’t behaving correctly. And every time i did, i felt like a bag of shit. Then i’d chide myself, because i was clearly in the right, so i was doing/saying what people needed. I was being brave.
But i kept feeling awful about it. So awful.

But i’d written this piece about love-goggling, and i kept thinking about it. I kept thinking about my son who believes things that i know are dangerous and provably wrong. I kept thinking about my friends who are taking terrible risks that i would not take. I kept thinking about how, when my mental illness overtook me, how those friends were the ones that were there for me, in the flesh, to help me when i could not help myself.

I asked myself: Is my rage helping me, or anyone else?
Is the fact that i can prove my rage is justified making me feel any better?
Does my tsk-tsking and finger-shaking make me feel good?
The answers were No. No, and Only for a very short time.
And that is when my mind and heart turned to love-goggling.
How am i going to be in a good relationship with my son when he believes things that actively put his family and others in danger? Love goggles.
How am i going to live in a community that largely believes in and supports political viewpoints that i find abhorrent? Love goggles.
How am i going to engage with an online audience that seems consistently arrogant, cruel, judgmental, and tribalistic? Love goggles.

I may be a Pollyanna. I may be a Milquetoast.
Maybe.
But today i can live in my own skin and i can give a shit about everybody.
Every. single. body.
And that feels good and right to me.

The Drop

I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

After my dear Ms T (i talk about my therapist so much, let’s give her a name) checks in with my current state, she goes over how i was switched and hung up on her during our last phone session. She asks me who i thought it might be that swatted the Little who was talking to her away, and then yelled at her and hung up.
She doesn’t usually ask me who was in the face in my absence.

For one, i often have no idea, and for another, none of us are inclined to give their names. We do so exceedingly rarely, and it tends to be delivered with not a little hostility. Even when i’m talking with my husband, who knows them all, i’ll use their role/job, rather than their names. It makes something twist up inside me to use their proper names. Like guitar feedback – and not the cool Jesus-and-Mary-Chain kind. It’s more like when your 12yr old is jamming with his friends in your garage.

I tell her i don’t know.
She asks me if i’d be willing to share with her what popped into my head when she asked me. I told her, but no name, only her role. I won’t be sharing either here, but i will say she is the #1 in the system: most developed, most power, most functional… most like me.

What followed is a bit on the hazy side, which is what happens when Ms T hits on something close to someone in my system. What i mean is, i tend to stay on track with my therapy sessions unless someone else who lives in my brain is triggered. If that happens, i feel myself getting pulled back, and i know someone is trying to pass me along the way, to get in the face. It’s like in a scary movie when the woman finally realises it’s the person she’s with, that she’s trusted the most, that’s killing everyone. When the camera pulls back for a long and wide shot – who knows, maybe i’m even wearing the same expression of dawning horror. /jk

It’s one way to describe how it initially feels during all the levels of dissociation that occur for me, as a multiple. First, there’s the initial receding, and then the numb and floaty feeling that comes with basic dissociation. I’m in a dopey, dreamy state here. Then there’s what i call sliding, where i’m not quite switched, but parts of my system are in the face, and i’m watching what’s happening without being able to affect my own actions. It’s a little like being the new baby at a family gathering – i get tossed around a bit. A full switch is where i can feel a violent pull back. It’d be like if the ocean of space inside my brain where all of them manifest were a pregnant woman. I feel a hard tug, right where my baby’s joined to me. I can share this weird analogy because my first son shot out of me like a football. The doctors weren’t anticipating a first timer to be done in 4hrs, so they were on the other side of the room, talking.

My doc said, OMG, the baby’s head is crowning! and ran over to catch. She did, but the fact that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my son’s neck and shoulders might have helped. I felt a pull on the inside so hard and strange; i could almost hear the boi-yoi-YOING! sound. Like if we were joined by a bungee cord.
You’re welcome for that image.
I’m saying switching comes from the baby-feeding belly-tube of my momma-brain.
K, i’m done. RLY.
Heh.

Back to my hazy recollection of my therapist and i discussing who flicked the wee one away and took her place.
I’ve been working on cutting down on the amount of time between her questions and my answers. There’s pressure to keep my mouth shut from many directions, but i have enough power to push up against it harder than before, i think. Like the football player in training pushing that sled just a little further each time.
I have a leftover impression of pressing myself to speak the answer as soon as i have it.
I’m not a fan of speaking without thought. It’s been my personal experience (so, not necessarily yours) that that can lead to a lack of proper skepticism. I’ve also seen the practise used overwhelmingly by those to whom i’d never go for help/healing.
I’m referring to practitioners of pop psychology (subjective), and to the religious (objective), and i mean no offense.
This is just life as me, making the best choices i can based on who i am, my life experiences, and what i want.
Your mileage will vary.

Having some trouble getting to my point today.
There’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on in this old noggin since that session 4days ago.
I’ll stop writing cute analogies, and just write what i know. It’ll be choppy, without my typical smooth transitions.
You may snort here.

This part of my system we talked about is basically my Number One. She’s task-driven, intimidating, sarcastic, grouchy, gruff and take charge. She’s the most protective over me, and when pushed, her words are nothing short of caustic. As i’ve written about though, she and i have both retired our ninjamouth ways. Still, i would have described her as one tough customer.

And then Ms T asks if it’s occurred to me that she’s probably somewhere around 6yrs old.
I remember it feeling a bit like looking down at a glass floor when you’re standing in a tower. It felt like i was going to slide back further (fall), but i didn’t.
I looked down and i saw HER, and i saw that she is a child.
And then it was like a drop tower at an amusement park.
I saw that they are all children, regardless of the age they affect.
They were all born when i was very small; how could they be anything but? They’re reflections of whatever age they claim to be; merely a manifestation of what i thought a rebellious teenager or provocative twentysomething or kind uncle or hardworking mother would be like.

I’m the only real grownup who lives in my brain.
All of the rest of me are children.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Happy Sunday,
~H~