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

Dear Diary: I Got Nothin’


I don’t know what to write regarding what’s going on in my life.

The depth and breadth of my self-knowledge is not helping. My sharp insights have fucked off somewhere. I’m floating, disconnected from mindfulness, from self-awareness, from the people i share space with. I’m just existing right now, in this fog of sadness.

I’m unable to access my usual level of vocabulary. Words appear to have abandoned me. My ability to communicate about myself is lost, or maybe it left. Packed up and took off because it needed a vacation. I don’t know.
I don’t know.

I’m so dissociated right now i can barely think.

My husband took our dog to the crematory this morning. His eyes were red and full of unshed tears. I’ve only seen him cry once, and he’s only teared up a few times. Watching him be brought so close makes my own grief cut deeper. Her last week and final moments are all i can think about. No attempts at distraction have been successful for very long.

I lost a dear friend a few weeks ago. It went almost the same way. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and all of our interactions. But then our dog got sick and she was my only concern. A terrible distraction. I was by her side, barely sleeping, until we lost her. And then i tried to write.

It felt automatic and robotic. I felt no emotion coming from the words on the screen. I knew there was an emotional log jam, but i didn’t know what to do about it. I kept pushing, rearranging words, sentences, paragraphs. Putting one work-in-progress away and picking up another. Nothing. It all felt empty and meaningless.

I emote. That’s what i do. That’s my voice. A telling of brutal truths in flowery language. I’m a cheerleader in a straitjacket. My words are fire and ice, sunshine and rain.

I haven’t been able to connect.

Two days ago i got some good advice. Stop trying to write for my money-making platform. Stop trying to produce for the publications i write for. Write something that’s only for me. As soon as i took that to my keyboard, i bashed out a piece about my friend who’d died. It flowed straight from my heart and was done in short order.

I went back to my writing feeling like things were flowing better. And they are… But they still kind of aren’t.

I have relationship troubles – more than one. More than 2, in fact.
I’m facing the very real possibility that my entire life is about to step off onto another path. And while i don’t want that, it might be inevitable.
I’m standing up for myself and becoming more of who i really am, and it’s not being met with applause and congratulations, lemme tell ya.
I have a new diagnosis, and although i require further testing before i’m properly convinced, still, it’s thrown me for a loop.
Pandemic.
Money trouble.
Chronic illnesses; mine and others’.
Death.

I’m running on empty. Trying to function under a veil of sadness and a vague sense of panic. I’m having difficulty with this, a simple diary/update post.
I am dissociated and disconnected. Dissatisfied and disheartened.

I’ve had no anchor to keep me in one place. No person to talk me down. No star to direct my way. I decided to take control of one aspect of my life that i can control. I’m not going to name it here, but i needed something to ground me — a simple thing for me to focus and hold on to. If i can get what i’m after in this area, maybe momentum can propel me into and through some of this other crap.

I don’t know. I’m tired, i don’t have any words left.
Time for a nap.
I’ll try writing again after sleep and food.

I might try checking in here every day with random nonsense and stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Maybe it’ll help.

I’m hanging in there though, and i hope you are too.


Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Pexels


To Do or Not to Do

I’m still in a mania. I had hoped my cycles were shortening, but it’s still here. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be shorter, but i am anxious and impatient. This is the process, and i am in it, and i am trying to push through.

I know i can’t push too hard, because i’ll stumble – which has been the case for the last couple of weeks. I pushed myself too hard to be a real live actual legitimate writer. It’s okay though, because i suspected i might (push too hard, that is). I’ve done my best to write my way through this; it is my favourite tool in my coping kit, and one of the most effective.

I ventured out on a different writing platform to do a slightly different kind of writing. I’m wanting to produce some writing that’s a bit more -i don’t know- professional(?), for lack of a better term. Let’s say, less intimate. A shift in voice, might be closer to what i’m driving at.
How about, not-a-journal style?

On this platform, there’s a lot of articles to read about how to be successful using it. I fell into that old, familiar trap of following other people’s rules and instructions. It’s easy to forget that other people don’t necessarily think like i think, or work how i work. Chances are they don’t. AA calls it “terminal uniqueness,” which i find arrogant, but yes, i am an individual who is not quite like anyone else on the planet, who will one day die, like everyone else on the planet.

Yeesh, when i’m manic even my sentences run. Heh.

I’m a bipolar multiple, with both picking and ticcing behaviours, and chronic health issues, like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, restless legs, osteopenia, and bruxism. I’ve recently been gently placed on the autism spectrum. (I’m still processing that one.)

What i mean is, i have a lot going on in the old bod of mine, and i’ve found it ill-advised not to take that into account whenever i’m presented with a step-by-step. After a lifetime of trying to fit myself into spaces and accomplish the generally recognised, societal perceptions of what constitutes success, i’ve discovered i ignore my individuality to my detriment. I force myself at my peril. I’m not sure if it’s an actual failing on my part that might one day be remedied, or if it’s merely the cost of living in my skin. Regardless, i think it’s something we all do, that is, filter through our nature/nurture: our experience, our worldview, and our level of understanding.

I hope that bit can be followed, because my brain is very busy. It’s going 200 clicks per hour, and i can’t seem to rearrange the words in that paragraph any better. It makes sense to me. At the very least, it can shine light on what it’s like in a mania.

And speaking of, the insomnia (a major symptom of manias) lately has an interesting flip side. While i can’t sleep for a few days, i’ve been hit with this strange exhaustion, where i fall asleep HARD, for around 4hrs at a time. I never sleep heavy unless i’m very drugged up. This last week i’ve slept like the dead a few times, and, upon waking i totter around the house as if drunk for hours after. It’s like my body is still half asleep. Weird as hell.

So, back to this writing on a new platform thing.

I tried to do it “right,” and that was the wrong thing for me. But i was able to figure it out almost immediately, and while manic, which is excellent. It’s what i’ve worked so hard to be able to do. To step a bit outside myself and see what’s going on with a critical eye, while being swept along by internal powers that are, so far, beyond my control. I wonder if i’d be this successful at navigating bipolar if i weren’t highly dissociative?

(I snicker-snorted here, feel free to join me.)

The problem now presenting itself is, do i push through?
My brain is working too fast and too hard right now. I am emotionally intense. I feel close a breakdown, which isn’t as scary as it sounds – i think it’s de rigeur for mania. I’m confident i can manage it, but… Do i try to be a little more functional? Can i reasonably expect more of myself than i was able to the last time i was manic?
Do i continue working to accomplish more of my goals, or do i slow back down to a crawl and just baby-step until it’s over?

I’m thinking i will blog daily for the next while, and see what happens.
I think the next step i was planning to take on the other platform might be part of what has me so wired.

More tomorrow.

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

Bugged & Bummed Out


So, yesterday happened. I’m not happy about it, but i lost the face from late afternoon to this morning. I was fully switched, so i have no idea what happened. Those hours are a blank, and so far, nothing’s coming back. I do know that an angry part was in charge, probably for most of the time i was gone. Some of my Bits N’ Pieces are so intense, they leave a trace of themselves behind. It’s like talking closely enough with someone you can tell what they had for lunch.
Rage, terror, garlic…

Plus, i’m absolutely knackered. The angry ones use up all my energy; when i come back i feel like a scooped out melon. These days i’ve been waking up early, and i mean early. Usually, i get up to use the facilities between 3 and 4am. The last couple of months i’ve been unable to get back to sleep.

There’s a few reasons for it. One is the writing. I’m trying to be a real live writer, i.e. writing like it’s my job. I read about how to be better at it, and other general thoughts from others on the craft itself. I’m learning about a career as an author. I’ve tapped into the passion i feel about it. It’s always been there, a pool in the centre of me, limpid but deep. Its quiet mystery always beckons, yet i’ve only ever dipped a toe in, or sat carefully on its edge and dabbled my feet.

Now, i’m fixin’ to swim.

There are other issues, but isn’t there always? Unfortunately, i fractured my left arm a couple of weeks ago. It’s causing me more irritation than pain. Don’t get me wrong, it aches like a bugger, but it isn’t unmanageable. The real problem is that it’s holding me back a little, and i’m chafing at life’s current restraints already. I have so much i want to accomplish. I’m not sure why i feel held back, exactly. Most of what i want to do can be done right here at home. I think i’m just grumpy and as fed up with all of this as everyone else.

I’m isolated and safe out here on our farm, though. We have money coming in and want for nothing. We’re all healthy and we have each other.

It could be a lot worse. I have dear friends who’ve endured nothing short of tragedy over the last couple of years. Many have lost those dearest to them.
I’ve been inconvenienced and delayed, nothing more.

Well, there you go.
Sometime’s a girl’s gotta kick her own ass.

Now that i’ve decided not to write about how tough i have it (because i don’t), on to the matter at hand. I lost time yesterday, and i have no idea why. I know my triggers, and while i deal with those every day, nothing was enough to trigger a switch. Yes, i’m tired and in pain, but –not to sound like a martyr here– i’m often tired and always in pain. I was writing, and it was flowing well. I’m receiving support and positive feedback. My fractured arm doesn’t keep me from writing or walking, which has become important for my physical and mental well being. My real life friendships are in some flux, but my online friendships are stronger than ever. The changes in my routine are stimulating, rather than overwhelming. I’m excited for what the future holds, not trepidatious.

I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.

I was up early, got some chores and some writing done before the hubs got up for work. I fed him breakfast, made his lunch, got dressed and ready for the day. I watched the news with him for a bit, but i quickly felt anxious, so i walked away and did more housework. I frequently hitch a ride with him into town, where he stops for gas and coffee before heading to the big city for work. I clocked 9,000 steps before i got home at around 8:30 or 9. I made 2 loaves of Friendship Bread and 5 pints of jam.

The jam didn’t set properly, which bugged me.
I kept trying to write, but it felt like i wasn’t getting anywhere with it, which bugged me.
An appointment i had, cancelled. Didn’t bug me, but change can be unsettling for me.
Couldn’t get my ass up to do any more housework, which was frustrating, and got me talking crap about myself, to myself.
I tried distraction, but nothing on telly grabbed me.
All my music – same.
Dogs were constantly underfoot, wanting walkies. I was annoyed.

And that’s really all i remember.

Woke up in the morning with a hangover/headache. I’m not drinking, it’s a rage hangover.

Feedback from my partner is that i was snippy and out of sorts. My texts were clipped. I didn’t have the right leash for our bigger dog. She would have been harder to handle, as she’s used to having around 3m of play. At some point after i met up with my husband after work, i got angry and demanded to be let out of our vehicle. Off i went on an angry walk.
My son relates that when i got home, he was downstairs but could hear me yelling. Said he knew immediately that i wasn’t myself.

These days i don’t struggle with shame over switching, like i used to. I’ve mostly accepted that i’m a multiple with bipolar disorder, who minors in anxiety and obsession. The thing that’s getting under my skin a bit is that i don’t know why i switched.

So, i came here to use one of my most productive tools. I’m writing about it. I came here yesterday morning, to write because it’s been a couple of weeks. I try to be somewhat regular and reliable these days. I want my readers to be able to count on me producing a couple of times a month. It’s not a stress, really. It’s helpful and appropriate. I’d drop it like a hot potato if it wasn’t helping or using spoons i needed for something else more important. But i wanted to write, and i needed to write, and here i am.

It came to me yesterday while i was walking. Because it’s actually the second day after i switched (Friday, if i’m hard to follow):

– I’ve been having trouble focusing;
– I can’t seem to get much done besides the basics.

I was irritated again, all day, so i decided to get my ass outdoors for a good long walk. It helped. Headphones on and just wandering around town aimlessly cleared my head. My thoughts were wandering around aimlessly, too.

It was then i remembered – i’m still manic.
Mania does not pop in and out of my life. While my cycles are significantly shorter than they were when i was first diagnosed (years long), i’m still a long, slow cycler. I could feel mania lapping at the shores of my consciousness months ago, but i’ve only identified being in an actual mania for, i don’t know, less than 2mos.

One of the chief symptoms of mania is irritability. I don’t know how i could forget that, except that i’m currently in a mania. My thoughts can jump quickly from one topic to the next, making it easy to lose track of things.
And you wanna know what?
I forgot about that insight until i made myself sit down and try and write this blog post again, today.

I would guess a large part of why i switched is that i’m experiencing a mania.
Another thing occurred to me though, during my walk. It struck deep and has stuck with me.
There may be times when i have no idea why i switched.

Not many people know themselves as well as i do, but i have limits. We know enough about the human brain to know we don’t know very much about it at all. And psychology is a very, VERY soft science, including the study of psychiatric disorders and neurodiversity. I know how my brain works in a general, non-specific, uneducated way; filtered through my own beliefs, experiences, and understanding.

What i know about my brain is that in some ways, it doesn’t function like other people’s. It does these extremely weird, often inconvenient things for myriad reasons – only some of which i’ve been able to suss out. There are things about my childhood i’ve forgotten, and others i’m not certain i’m remembering correctly. I know a bit about how trauma affects the brain, but i’ve only a lay person’s understanding. The abuse i survived was extreme and long term, and i imagine the effects have mirrored that. If nothing else, my multiplicity has taught me there’s a shitload going on up in this bat-filled belfry of mine, and i’m unaware of most of it.

I’m glad that i booted my ass out of the WHY-MEs earlier on in this post, but the truth remains. I live with serious, debilitating, complicated, life-altering mental illnesses, and at the moment my plate is FULL. I’m dealing with my own stuff, loved one’s stuff, and the world in crisis, on top of everything else. Whether or not everyone else has got a tonne of stress (and they do) doesn’t change the reality of my situation.

My brain will do what it’s going to do.
My job is to cope the best i can.

Yeah, not the most interesting or inspiring of posts, but it’s helped me to write it. The tool got the job done. Maybe now that i’ve got this out of the way, i can get back to my writing job.
I’m hopeful.

ETA: I’m posting this Saturday afternoon, and my time loss occurred on Wednesday. Since then, while chatting with a friend, it came up that one of my medications may be at least partly responsible. One of the known side effects is “mood swings,” so i guess i’ll be looking into that, now.

Love and Peace,
~H~



IMAGE: mana5280

Blippity-Blobbity-Oops!


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

A couple of things needed to happen:

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t that interesting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMAGE: Sarah Kilian

Intermission

So…
That last post wasn’t exactly written by me, which hasn’t happened in a long time.
I only have a few parts that can handle today’s technology, and based on the tone of the writing i’m fairly certain who it was. While it’s a little worrisome, i’m not overly concerned. In fact, i can see this might be a good thing. If all of me can express how they feel about the body work i’m doing, and all the past issues i’m dealing with as a result, i can see how i might just be building a more cohesive unit inside this weird old noggin of mine.

She’s hurting and feeling abandoned by family. She’s feeling like we never belonged anywhere, and that no one wanted us. I do think about that. I wonder if my mother drove her adopted family away, or if it was more about her not being a part of their religion. As i’ve found tends to be the way of things, it was probably a bit of both. When it comes to my step-family, i’m the one who walked away – they just breathed a sigh of relief and told me not to let the door hit my ass on the way out.

Today i’m going to rest, and try to get a bit closer to the author of yesterday’s piece. I don’t want her to feel so alone, although it’s the primary characteristic of her personality. (How’s that for meta?) I’m going to shift my focus slightly, more towards my system than my body today. I’m thinking if 1 comes out with things to say, i have a couple others who’d be capable of the same, but many only have me, and paper and pen.
I’m going to love on them and listen carefully.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Treading Water

I’m having trouble writing.

Yes, again.

It’s not because i’m going through a bunch of crud and i’m waiting for it to be done so i might over analyse it and package it up prettily, replete with a spiffy bow for your easy consumption. I’ve shared before that i struggle with this – i hesitate to share when i’m in the trenches, because it can get so damn dark and cold down there, and i’m trying to bring a message of hope. But i’ve learned that the truth can bring hope, even if the truth is ugly. I’ve also learned that it’s not my responsibility to save the world. As all my children are now grown, i’m no longer responsible for anyone but myself, and my dog.

The best i can do is throw life buoys in the water. They’ll keep you afloat for a while. Allow you to rest. But i can’t make you swim over to it, or grab onto it, or keep holding on. I hope you do, though. I want us all to make it.

I’m having trouble writing because i’m tired. The effort it requires for me to stay present in my body and resist dissociation is maximal. I don’t seem to have much left over for anything else. That’s okay, because i’ve tailored my life to accommodate this kind of thing. I have a very supportive partner, my kids aren’t kids anymore, and i live on a farm. I enjoy private space all around me, and the people in my life all know that “just popping by” is not an option.

So yeah, i’ve got an excellent setup for the work i’m doing, and i’ve settled into a groove. Well, it’s less groove than zombie-shuffle, but i’m gettin’ through it.
Except life has this way of happening, and life has gone and done happened on me.
My life has absolutely and utterly changed. To what extent, and whether for good or ill i don’t yet know, but i’ll never be the same.

It’s not appropriate to talk about it yet. I’m gathering information and sitting with it for a while, first. It’s not a diagnosis; i’m not sick. Well, nothing has been added to my current laundry list, and nothing has intensified or become life-threatening, at least. And my primary relationship is solid. So for any of my readers who’re inclined to worry – don’t. It’s a big deal, but it’s not bad. It’s just BIG. I don’t have any energy left over for anything besides functioning in the day-to-days, listening to my body and trying not to dissociate.

But life isn’t a consciousness. It has no feelings or intents or plans. It’s not trying to mess with me. It’s not laughing at me. I’m not a rat in its maze. Life just lives until it doesn’t. It doesn’t care about timing. It isn’t concerned with how many spoons i have in my coping drawer. It just rolls along and happens. And oh boy, has it ever happened.

What i’m going to do here is just update. Just mention some things and check in with how i’m doing. Living stuff. Coping. Processing. Thoughts and sundry.

My physical health is okay. Not great, but manageable. I’m learning to live with osteopenia (low bone density, not severe enough to be classified osteoporosis) by taking prophylactic medication and the right exercise. The result has been a reduction in pain, and far less of the “crunching” that i was hearing by late afternoon. The pain wasn’t terrible, but the noise was quite disturbing. I’m currently working on bringing up my fitness level. I started with walking.

Walking is something i’ve been doing a lot of, since i was able to do it. When we lived in cities, my mother would send me to the corner store for snacks and cigarettes, and out to panhandle. One of the best ways for me to escape from my home life for a while was to be outside, so i was outside a LOT. Whatever the weather, and long after other children had gone home, you could find me outside. When we moved into more small town living, we tended to live far away from the school. We were a wrong-side-of-the-tracks sort of family, so there was usually a few miles between me and the school. Another thing i did to stay out of her hair/way/path (although i didn’t see it that way at the time), was to join clubs. I was in lots of clubs growing up: girl scout type clubs, choirs, drama troupes, sports clubs, military clubs… I didn’t do too much school oriented after school activities, because bullies, but other clubs seemed mostly populated with nerds and misfits like me, so i didn’t get picked on much.

Walking is where i come closest to a quiet state of mind, too. Meditation is beyond the capabilities of many multiples. My brain is never silent, even when i’m dreaming i can pick up background chatter if i’m lucid enough. After decades of having professionals and non alike tell me that meditation could fix a number of my issues (even cure my anxiety, tap into my deeper intellect, and become a spiritual giant!), i finally found a therapist i could work with, who told me straight away that my being unable to meditate at even the most basic level was not at all uncommon for those diagnosed with DID.

Walking is also my system’s response to extreme stress. I was programmed to “go home” if i got in a bad spot, and it’s still a hard reflex inside me. I’ve taken off hundreds and hundreds of times, and probably logged thousands of kilometres.
All this to say – i can walk, honey.
So i’m walking, and it’s good, and i’m good at it, and it’s good for me.

Except for the fibro flare it’s causing, of course. That’s the crap part of it. I’ve been living with this chronic pain since 1995, so i’m fairly educated on my condition, and i know this is to be expected. The key is to increase gently, with long periods of status quo in between. I’ve also taken up some beginners yoga stretching, which i’m finding calms me rather nicely, while warming up my muscles for the distances i put in during the day.

(This is where my dark and twisty sense of humour comes in handy, because it’s just so **ME** to be working on my fitness and pushing through the resultant uptick in pain, while also trying to cut back/eliminate dissociation. I have this built in ability to distance myself from pain, and i can’t use it. I mean, i can, but i choose not to. Ah well, the hard way is just a way in the end, amirite? Heh.)

My diet is good. I’m calorie restricting for weight loss, but i eat soundly. My FitBit is helping with keeping me mindful of what i eat, although i don’t use any of their programs – that stuff can easily trigger obsession in me. I’m just logging my calories so that i can keep track. Sometimes i weigh and measure just to give me a better idea where my calories are being spent. Sunday i take the FitBit off, i don’t exercise per se, and i have a slight cheat day, food wise. I don’t go all out cheat though, because i find that hard to bounce back from sometimes, and i need the momentum i’ve built up to cruise me through while i’m dealing with this overwhelming exhaustion.

Socialising is hard for me right now. It happened suddenly, but that’s not out of the ordinary. I don’t want to go out and i don’t want to see anyone, but it’s slightly different now; i’m less extreme. In the past, i would hole up in my Little Crooked House and just hermit. No phones, no answering the door, no leaving the house except when unavoidable. Now i can see someone if i need to, for instance, i know a lovely woman who’s helping me with eyelash extensions while mine grow out after nuking them and my eyebrows in the Burning Barrel Incident that i mentioned a few posts ago. She’s softspoken and very kind and low key, and i don’t want to scream when she touches my face. If only there were eyebrow extensions. <insertruefulexpressionhere>

A dear friend invited me out to supper last Saturday  and i said Yes. When i got there, my body and brain started acting up immediately, and i knew i couldn’t stay. I did a quick negotiation with my Peanut Gallery: Yo, if y’all will just STFU and let me touch base with my friend, i won’t stay any longer than an hour. So i ordered my food to go, and had a nice chat with my friend while it was being prepared.
That’s some gold standard problem solving for me, right there.

I think what i’m seeing is, i can do one-on-ones, but i’m finding any more than that quickly saps what little energy i have. I love humans and enjoy their company – except when i don’t, and these last couple of weeks i’ve occasionally felt almost misanthropic. That’s a neon sign that my stress level is high.

I don’t like ending on a low note, but yeah… As i mentioned to my online group of friends yesterday, i’ve gotta look up to see dirt. Depression is seeping in, making me sluggish and mopey. These last couple of days i’ve felt sad and alone. There’s some self-pity there, sure. I can hear the sad trombone. But i’m going to allow myself a bit of ass-dragging, because i’ve learned if i don’t acknowledge what’s happening and just let myself BE™, a little, my condition will just get bigger and bigger until i pay attention. I must give it some space to breathe, and move, and act in accordance with my emotions (scared, mad, sad, etc.) and sensations (pain, ache, emptiness, etc.). I must listen to what my brain and my body are trying to tell me.

I haven’t been this down and heavy in my bones for a long time.
I can hang on until therapy tomorrow. Little goals.
My body is heavy and slow, so i do a few things around the house, with long breaks of doing sweet fuck all in between. My brain is foggy and fuzzy and full of low thoughts, so i read for entertainment only, and limit who i share space with, and i curate conversations to avoid topics that will feed my depressive feelings. I’m watching emotional stuff that helps me cry, because tears want to come, but i have trouble crying for myself. I can always cry for someone else, so sappy movies it is. I start crying because The Fisher King or RENT, but i keep crying because holy shit am i ever going through it right now.

This work is hard and it’s taking everything i have to do it. And life just has no heart, no mercy, no grace for me – it just keeps doing its thing and that’s just how life does things and i’ve gotta get with the program, man.
I’m plodding along, but it’s forward.
I’m doing the minimum, but i’m DOING.
I’m standing here on the shore as the tide advances, lapping at my feet, then swirling around my knees, and now it’s pulling me out, out into the deep…
And i’m letting it pull me.
I’m treading water for now, but i’ll get to swimming at some point.
I will.
You watch me.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Suffer the Little Children

Alternate title: Jesus, Do You Smell That?

Content warning: Some references to childhood sexual abuse.

I’m settling in to this process a bit more every day. I don’t know how long it will take for me to forge a connection between my brain and my body, but i’m committed to and invested in it, even if i’m never quite done. I’m connecting parts slowly, a bit at a time, and i’m doing well resisting the urge to tackle it all, hard and head-on. When the Peanut Gallery pipes up with some judgey shit about how i should be further along than i am, i have plenty of examples of how terribly awry things can go when i push too hard. However, during my therapy sesh yesterday i realised there is an area where i could be doing a tad more, and i’m balking.

I try every day, all day, to stay present in my body and feel what’s happening to me physically; my aim is to dissociate as little as possible. I hold on to the face through the regular day-to-day sensations, like brushing my teeth, which can be triggery AF, and i’m hanging on through some awful body memory stuff, like phantom burning in my genital area. While i’m going through these intense body sensations, my Bits N’ Pieces are having various reactions to what’s going on, just like i am. I’m learning to care for the body memory stuff with warm drinks, blankets, binding, writing, and even talking about it with my hubs, but i’m hanging back when it comes to directly engaging my system and asking them what kind of care/comfort they’d like while dealing with this stuff.

Mutiplicity can be difficult to explain, and this is one of those areas that, no matter how i put it, it still seems inadequate; the words don’t communicate my reality sufficiently. Yes, i hear voices in my head. I know they’re all me, and yet they’re a little bit not me. Maybe think of it like we tend to think of things as natural or not natural: maple syrup gets the natural label, but Aunt Jemima doesn’t. They’re both made of ingredients that come from our world (some additives are man-made, sure, but it’s not like we folded space and travelled to another universe for the elements needed to make them), yet one doesn’t seem as raw or earthy – it’s not as much a part of the innate order of things. Unnatural? Not quite natural?

So it is with my system. I know the people that live in my brain, that chatter at me all day long and even into my dreamlife, that saved me when i was little and now help shoulder the minefield that is being a human living in a developed nation after severe trauma, by carrying my burdens, secreting my pain, and sometimes taking control of my body when i’m overwhelmed… Are all iterations of me – various versions of who i needed to be or thought i had to be in order to survive.
Yet they are not me.
There were walls between us for many years, borders that none of us would cross. They would not because they exist to care for/protect me, and i couldn’t because i hadn’t the knowledge or the space safe enough to do so. To step into the light and see my system – my big brain machine humming along, gears inside gears, turning alongside gears inside gears. A terrifically complicated and intricate psychic arrangement of snippets and gobs of personality. Actors that only exist between the green room and the stage. When i finally saw my face as a lit theatre and gained access to their dressing rooms, well, you know that not every actor whose work you like is a person you’d want to hang out with after the show, right?

Some of my people are not a good time. I might even say most of them aren’t, a lot of the time. I love them in a way that is only for them – not like i love my husband, my children, my friends. Not like food, or music, or art, or animals, or sunshine, or a cool glass of water, or my husband’s kiss. Not even like the characters in my favourite books. They’re more than these things, and less, too. Yet they’re closer to me than absolutely anyone else – no one, nothing else could get so close. They’re my saviours who occasionally get me into some serious scrapes. They’re my best friends and my champions. And they’re also my children who’re always getting into something and the only reason i don’t strangle them is they’re underdeveloped toddlers who can’t help it.

They remember awful things, sometimes as clearly as if they happened yesterday, sometimes as if they are happening now, in this moment, all the time. And i know i’m currently writing about feeling the physical sensations that go along with certain memories that’ve been locked away in certain parts of my body, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also carry some physical pain. They feel the aching jaw, the bruises, the cuts, the headache like my skull is going to turn to dust, the swelling, the bleeding, the burning – all of it. It’s my hope that this work i’m doing will help them be free from pain. Perhaps even, that they can return to me as i return myself to homeostasis. They’ve told me their stories, now it’s my body’s turn. I see this as a housecleaning. I’m shining a light on all the dark places, removing all traces of black mould. But this house is currently serving as a temporary MASH unit, filled with sick and wounded soldiers. I have medicines and tonics and pills for them, and i have cleaners and disinfectants, tools and talent for cleaning a filthy home…
But the body has triggered my system, and i haven’t asked them if they want anything from me to help them bear it all.

Back when i was first learning to listen and relate to the other people who live with me in my brain, it was a gross and disgusting ordeal. Once i acknowledged that some of my dreams were actually memories, it was like trying to live a normal life in a locked room filled with decomposing bodies. I felt like i was coated in filth – it slicked my skin and filled up my nostrils and sat in the bottom of my belly like an angry, acid python, constantly twisting and spilling over itself. I stank of evil, life stank of rot. I was surrounded by horror, sex and death roiling and foaming together like a cannibal’s cauldron. It was the closest to giving up that i’ve ever come, i almost lost myself in the viscous fluid of memory, losing form and definition and nearly dissolving into hopelessness and endless nothing.

As i write this i’ve suddenly seen that i’m parenting my Bits like i parented my real life children. From a fucking distance. Afraid to touch, to engage, to connect. I didn’t know how with my sons, but i do now. I learned because i saw how much harm it had done to me not to have it from my parents. I’ve been learning and practising since then because i believe it’s not too late to give it to them unless they tell me so. And i would keep trying even if they told me it was too late and would never be enough, because i believe it’s my responsibility as a parent, and because i experience that doing so helps and heals me, too.

Yes, parenting my children with connection, engaging with them emotionally and physically – that’s what my brain-babies need/want, as well. Of course they do. I know that, it’s just that the feelings they carry, the stories the snapshots the motherfucking scary movie franchise…
Bah. The last time i got up close and personal with it all it was years before i felt clean again. It was years of barely being in the face because i couldn’t take the slime and the stench.
But comparing them to my boys helps.
Writing helps.
Therapy helps.
Hubby helps.
Truth helps.

They’re broken off bits of me, and they need me to wash them, bind up their wounds, and soothe them, just as i’ve done for myself, the primary me. If they were real live children, covered in blood and shit and filth, smelling like sex and rot, i wouldn’t hesitate for a second to gather them to me and minister to their needs.
These children are all me; why is it so hard to give myself what i would give to any other human in my position?
I was taught that i only existed to be poured out for the consumption of others, but i know now that that was a wicked, selfish lie told me by evil people.
Knowing where i come from and who i am is good, but it’s not enough. I have wounds that need washing and stitches and bandaging, breaks that need mending, and aches that need warmth.

This piece may not make much sense, i’m not sure. This is so close to my core that i don’t think i’m able to edit/proofread this with a critical eye. If you’ve made it this far, i thank you. Writing this made me want to throw up most of the way, but here and now, at this sentence, i feel recommitted and more fiercely dedicated than ever. If someone hurt a child the way i was hurt, if someone hurt my children the way i was hurt, i would ruin the world to make things better for them.

Yes, it’s a contradictory statement. It’s hyperbolic. It paints a picture and conveys the intensity of my conviction.

So, i guess i’m heading into the trenches.
This could get…

<insertwhateverwordcametoyourmindasitprobablyapplies>

Take Care and Try a Little Tenderness,
I will, too.

~H~

Imagination

Writing through the bad.

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

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

IMAGINATION.
<insertSpongebobmemehere>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drips and Drabs

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

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

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

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

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

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