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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I can't explain.

But I will try.

Therapist has said on many occasions that, given the abuse and assault I have experienced, and the ages at which those occurred, there is no logical reason for me to be functional. And when he has said it, I've laughed. He's tried to tell me about people who have similar experiences. He's talked about their inability to hold jobs or their failed marriages. He talks of drug and alcohol abuse, of the ways they have neglected or abused their own children. He says I've been saved by my brain.

My brain.

The thing that noticed something was going on that could completely destroy me and simply said, No.


That is not happening.

And so it didn't. For years I've been able to keep a lid on the things that have the potential to make my life hell. But even the most talented brain can't do that forever. One by one the past is presenting itself to me. Memories suppressed begin to surface. There are some that I have changed in order to protect myself from their reality. But they don't make sense in context. They cannot be true. Therefore there is another truth, another reality, from which I am hiding.

I'm not good at believing things that aren't true.

And so I have begun to find out what is real. And as I do so, I'm beginning to understand how someone could be lost to trauma. I'm understanding how they might lose a job or a spouse or a family. I'm understanding why they might turn to drugs or alcohol.

I won't. I can't. It's not who I am.

But as I worked yesterday with Tolkien Boy to recover the real memories, it was very difficult to remain present. There were too many flashbacks. For years the memories have been piled against a door, and when it was opened, they all spilled out at once. I get caught in the memories. They feel tangible. I can't get out by myself.

Which is why Therapist said I cannot do this alone. And that was a very good thing yesterday.

But my brain gets tired. After a little while it just stops. I can't think or feel anymore. I'm calm, unaffected, because to be otherwise requires more energy that I have. So after we worked for awhile, we had dinner and played games. because what else would we do?

Today, though, was another story.

Today the emotions and the panic can't stop surfacing. And, let's face it, they're bound to be the worst in a bathroom. Which they were.

And when I think of what we uncovered yesterday, I feel crazy. My brain feels mixed up. I can't make words to talk about it. How does this even happen?

So I am trapped between revelation and disbelief. I'm stuck inside flashbacks and panic. There are more memories I am afraid to look at. They'll hurt but I won't be able to feel it. Unless I choose to. Sometime I have to choose to.

I am not a child. I am not defenseless. I can do this. But right now, I just feel overwhelmed and confused. There's too much. And in the large scheme of things, is this even important?

I think it's important. It has to be important. It's about me. I matter, maybe, but I don't know why.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I need to sleep. My brain wants to think. Incompatible.

I practice in sections. Each piece is divided and marked before I ever begin learning it. I never start at the beginning. To do so ensures that the beginning is always very good, but there will be weakness throughout the piece. To learn a piece from beginning to end means the ending will never be as strongly performed as the beginning. You have to mix it up. Never begin practicing in the same place. Make certain one section is not more flawless than another. And then, when everything is balanced, you put it in order. You make it into music.

I've run all my life. Then I got injured and had to learn to run again. I'd never done that before. So I learned to run in sections. Run, then walk. Run, then walk. Each day make the running sections longer, the walking sections shorter. Eventually, you just run. No walking. But it takes time. You have to learn to breathe. You learn there is a threshold at which you feel your lungs may burst and your muscles are giving out and you HAVE TO STOP. Except, if you don't stop, if you push through the threshold, you hit your stride, breathing becomes rhythmic and easy, and it feels as if you could run forever.

I must work through the current problem I face in sections, methodically, piece by piece. Therapist says to do some work, then go read or take a walk or be with someone who helps me feel the most like me. If I push too hard, the memories will stall out, continuing to haunt my dreams and triggering the terror I feel at the edges of my brain.

It has been nearly six and a half years since my no-flashbacks anniversary. Even though the flashbacks have returned, I'm keeping that anniversary. Those flashbacks pertained to a different incident. These are new. I'm not as good at masking my reaction when one comes. It's been more than six years, after all, since I've had to do that. My body shakes. I can't focus on what is being said to me. I have to remind myself where I am and what I'm doing when the flashback ends.

One step at a time, Therapist reminds me. I can't manage the flashbacks until I recall what happened. I can't recall what happened until I create a safe place in which to remember.

But there is still a part of me wondering what it is about me that attracted those who would follow and molest me. A child. A very small, 40-pound 8-year-old with dark eyes and brown curls. What made them wish to hurt me?

And the can of worms is open yet again.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Therapy Assignment Number One: Complete

Talking to my parents about their recollections of the bathroom molestation incident. That sucked. Indeed, it did.

Friday, February 10, 2017

I really did try to not think about the bathroom thing. And here's what happened:

Wednesday: I got up and went running. And everything felt fine. But then I made myself a smoothie. And I drank it. Still fine. So I went to work. While I was working, I noticed my head couldn't seem to stop thinking about the bathroom thing and its accompanying nightmares. And as the thoughts came, so did the nausea. By 2:00 I could barely sit up. A thought would come and I would vomit. Another thought would come...more vomiting. The nausea isn't new. I've been feeling it for more than a week now, but this is the first time it's been more than a little stomach upset. I tried eating some potatoes around 8:30 p.m. and they stayed down, but I felt terrible.

Thursday: I decided not to rock the boat. I took a walk instead of a run and drank Gatorade. And I felt well enough to make dinner. So I did. And I ate it. And I threw it up. I cannot get away from the nightmares.

Friday (that would be today): I can't even think about eating. It's not happening.

So I made some plans, and some worked and some did not.

I talked with Darrin and told him all that's going on. He listened, but didn't say a lot. He's concerned about my being alone while I remember. I'm concerned, too. No solution. He's at work. Everyone is at work. There is no way in Hell that I'll involve my father-in-law in this. He's the only one I know who is home during the day. But I talked with Darrin. That's a good thing.

Tolkien Boy said he's like to help if he can. I thought I might be able to talk with him. I have no idea how to utilize his help, but it's early days. I though maybe he would be able to think of a possibility. But I was too sick this morning to talk with anyone. And this afternoon I was looking at houses. So no conversation with Tolkien Boy.

I called Therapist. I said I knew he'd like me to wait, but my body had other ideas. He said he was afraid of that. We'll talk more on Monday.

And now I'm going to go see if food will go in my mouth.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler." --Friedrich Nietzsche

Today Therapist told me that I'm not really in a place, physically, where I have what I need to work on the things that are becoming increasingly bothersome. Well, the thing. THE thing. The THING. Thing.

Bathrooms. Why have I always been afraid of public restrooms?

Because I'm silly, that's why. There's nothing to be afraid of.

That's what I've told myself. It hasn't helped that there are urban myths mingled with truths about things that have happened in public restrooms.

Afraid of going to the restroom. Especially those in the church.

Therapist said, "Have you told me about this before?"

Nope. I haven't.

"Have you blogged about it? Told anyone else."


"Is there a reason why we haven't talked about it?

Yes. Probably. I understand that in over a decade of therapy, I probably should have brought it up.

"So, why?"

Why? Because I thought it was okay. I thought I was okay. I thought everything was okay.

Things that came out in therapy today:

1. I haven't told Therapist about the bathroom molestations because I don't want to know if they're things that will cause me distress. Except now I do. They cause me distress now. After a million years of being ignored.

2. The first time I was molested I don't really remember that much about it. I was probably three. Why was a three-year-old allowed to go to the bathroom alone? That is a very good question. What happened? I don't know. Do I remember anything? Yes. I went in the restroom. Someone entered after me and turned off the light. In the dark, I was fondled. The person talked to me. I don't remember what they said. I don't know if it was a woman or a man. I was three. I don't feel anything about this, really. It doesn't feel frightening beyond the realization that my parents allowed three-year-old me to go to a public restroom by myself. The experience of being molested by a stranger simply feels weird. The residual effect was that, from that point, I was afraid to enter the bathroom. There was also some fear of the dark and some transference of that fear to inanimate objects in my bedroom (stuffed animals, dolls, and/or pictures hanging on my walls).

3. It is clear that I have blocked much of my memory of the second molestation experience, and that I am aware that I've done so. I don't want to remember. When I try, every part of me says, "NO!" But the nightmares still come. So some part of me wants to remember. I told Therapist today that being raped when I was 11 was horrible. There were parts of dealing with it and with the aftermath that were unspeakably painful. But the experience when I was eight, when a man who was mentally disabled followed me into a church bathroom and molested me-- that's terrifying beyond anything else I can think of.

4. I believe one of the reasons this experience terrifies me is because I don't remember exactly what happened. I'm dealing with the unknown. Except I do know. I just can't make myself look at it.

5. I'm not really contradicting myself. I truly do not remember parts of the experience. I also know that I DO remember. I can't really explain this. One of the reasons I had Tolkien Boy go with me back to the park where where we walked nearly 10 years ago after we had lunch with the man who raped me is because I know we did that. I just can't remember it. After we went back and Tolkien Boy described as much as he remembered (it was a decade ago, a different season of the year, and who really pays attention to all the details anyway?), I began having tiny flashes of remembrance. This is sort of what's happening with the bathroom molestation in question.

What do I remember? I remember being shocked that a man followed me into the bathroom. Then I saw who it was. He was different. My parents said he was mentally challenged. He was grown up, but his brain was not grown up. They had made it sound as if he thought on the level of a child who was four or five years old. He must be confused. So I said something about how he needed to use the other bathroom - the one for boys.

And then he grabbed me. I couldn't get away. He was strong, but I was angry and scared out of my mind. He took my clothes off me, muttering under his breath all the time. I don't remember what he said. I remember hitting, scratching, biting, kicking, screaming. He put his hand over my mouth. I bit that, too. And then there is nothing. I don't remember anything else until either he let me go or I broke away. I don't remember dressing, but I remember running to the door fully clothed, so that must have happened.

I remember hearing him say, "Don't tell your dad. Don't you tell your dad!" I remember the inflection and the sound of the voice clearly, as if they were said to me seconds ago. I remember turning to look at him and saying with more anger and defiance than I had ever felt in my life, "I AM telling him. I'm telling him right now!" And then I ran.

But I didn't tell. At least, not right away. I stood, shaking, next to my father who was watching a Stake basketball game in the gym, and shouting instructions to the players. I think he was coaching. I don't know. At some point, I touched his leg. He didn't feel it. I touched him again and said, "Daddy?" Maybe it was the way I said it. Somehow I was able to convey that things were not okay. He asked what was wrong. I remember saying the name of the man who had molested me. I said he followed me into the bathroom.

This is where the flashes of memory begin. I remember seeing blood on my hand. I don't think it was mine. I remember being hit in the head by the man. I remember him flinging me away, finally. I remember hitting a wall.

I remember being placed on a chair by my father. And then he left.

I have been told that my parents talked with me. I have been told that we met with people so I could tell my story. I have no memory of this.

I remember not going to the bathroom at church anymore. And sometimes at school. I would wait until I got home. Or I would make sure I had a friend with me.

And so the nightmares happen. I look down at my hand, my eight-year-old hand, and it has blood on it. I don't know why. My head hurts. I have bruises on my arms and legs.

I remember bathing that night. I remember the water and the soap hurt inside my vagina. But I don't think I was raped. I don't remember him taking of any of his clothing or exposing himself to me. I remember seeing bruises on my ribs and stomach.

But the nightmare always begins and ends with the blood on my hand.

I didn't tell Therapist any of this. He believes I forgot because that was the healthiest way for an eight-year-old to deal with a terrifying experience. He says it's healthy. He wants me to wait until I'm in a safer place, physically and emotionally, before we delve into any of this. But my brain has other plans.

Therapist asked if I could shelve it for now. I said I'm trying. I'm not having a great deal of success. It's not like I WANT to do this. He suggested finding a safe place outside of my apartment where I won't be disturbed. I'm afraid if I do that, the molestation experience will become associated with that place which will then no longer be safe.

Therapist asked me what I'm most afraid of in reference to working through all this. Honestly, I'm afraid of doing it when I'm alone. There's more to add, but I don't have words to express. Alone, while I'm sifting through what I know and allowing more memories to come, is scary to me. I'm at the point now where I can almost see his face. I don't want to be alone when I see it clearly. I can hear his words and his voice. When I find out where the blood came from, I want a person nearby.

Therapist didn't say anything when I told him that. Maybe he thinks that's cowardly? When I pressed him for an opinion, he said that I should not be alone when the memories come, but that, right now, it sounded as though I didn't really have any control over when they would manifest themselves. It could very well happen when I'm alone. He suggested having someone I could call if no one is with me.

I'm rereading all of that. I'm talking about remembering. Nothing I remember can hurt me. This happened so long ago. It's possible that the person who molested me is dead now. He was in his late thirties, possibly early 40s, when I was eight. I don't need to have someone with me. I'm a grown-up.

I'm saying those words while my brain is saying, "You were alone when you were raped and molested. Maybe it's okay to ask for someone safe to be with you while you sort through the trauma and look at what happened to you. It's bound to be an ugly sight. And really, really frightening. And probably at least a little bit horrible. Do you want to be alone when that happens?"

But how do you say, "Please just sit with me. You can't see what I'm seeing or hear what I'm hearing, but I need you. Because I'm afraid. Is that okay?"

I don't know if it's okay.

What I do know is that it's long after midnight. I need to sleep. Let the nightmares commence.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Today, springlike, made me wish for a walk. I didn't take one. Still resting that strained tendon and hoping for healing soon. But I will run tomorrow, healed or not. I need some relief from the internal stress and tension.

I know I have become emotionally depleted when I no longer have to remind myself to set proper boundaries with people. I don't need to do that because the yearning for them has disappeared. I don't really care if we connect or not. I'm not really thinking about people I love. Mostly, I just want to read. All the time. It makes complete sense, probably. I've spent a length of time feeling stressed socially and emotionally. My environment is not such that I can find relief. And so something must shut down. And it does.

Therapist and I have discussed protocols to put in place when this happens.
1. Take some time for me. Regroup. Think of things that are calming and safe.
2. Devise ways to spend short periods of time with people I love. This can include online time, but only if that feels like a safe place.
3. Make physical contact, if possible. Think of appropriate ways to share proximity without it causing panic.
4. Talk about what is happening.
5. Don't make any big decisions during this time, especially in regards to relationships.
6. Do something joyful.

Okay. The last one is mine. I just decided to add it now. I don't know why. Probably because much of my life right now feels joyless.

I bought irises last week. That helped.

I feel...old and used up.

I can hear all the people who have walked with me for the past decade saying:
1. It won't last.
2. You'll be okay.
3. Many people are feeling something like this right now.
4. Given your circumstances, everything you're feeling is reasonable.

And they're right. All of that is correct. And unhelpful.

Almost 10 years ago, I went to lunch with the man who raped me as a child. And Tolkien Boy came along. But before we went to the restaurant, Tolkien Boy was with me in my hotel room. I said, "I'm scared." I was looking out the window. I felt like such a coward for admitting to being afraid. Tolkien Boy didn't tell me not to be afraid, nor did he tell me I was a coward. He just opened his arms to hug me. He was sitting on the bed. My brain went through a million thoughts in that moment, but chief was that he was willing to touch me, the raped person.

And so I lost every scrap of dignity I had, threw myself at him, just in case he regained sanity and changed his mind, and we had what is probably one of the most awkward, uncomfortable hugs ever. Not because of the circumstances, but because I landed sideways, oddly positioned, and not in the proper hugging position. But I didn't let go. Just in case he remembered I was the raped person and pushed me away. Which he didn't do, but he did suggest repositioning after a few moments.

I'm remembering this because I don't know how to hold onto people anymore. Physically, I find myself timing hugs again. 15 seconds is too long. But I don't think of myself as untouchable anymore. I just think, maybe, more than a 15-second hug with me might be unpleasant. I haven't delved into that, really. I tried to on Friday last week, but my head started to hurt. Then AtP started talking to me online. So I said, "I live within three miles of your house. Would it be okay if I stopped by for a 10-second hug? You can time me." And he said yes.

So Darrin and I went. And I was careful not to hug for longer than 10 seconds. But AtP's three-year-old let me hold and cuddle him longer. Tolkien Boy's dogs let me touch and hold them longer, too. Children and animals...

I'm skirting the issue. Probably on purpose.

1. It won't last. Of course it won't. I know that. But it will last for awhile, and while it's here, will you please just tell me you love me even when I'm emotionally numb?

2. You'll be okay. Of course I will. I always am. But okay is not really that great of a state of being. It actually sort of sucks. It's when you're not wanting to die, but you're watching everyone around you laughing at a joke you don't understand, or you're eating food that tastes like sawdust, or you feel like there's a glass wall between you and all of life. So in the moment when I'm okay, will you remind me that I'm actually not okay, I'm amazing? Tell me you love my smile, my sense of humor, and that I'm fun to be with? Remind me that there are times when I make your life better?

3. Many people are feeling something like this right now. They are. It hurts my heart that so many people ache or are angry or feel afraid or desperate. And I'm right there with them. Help me remember that we're in this together? Because there is a lot of feeling alone right now, and also the belief that, in the end, everyone will do whatever is best for them, personally, and no one will care about anyone else. That's not who we are. That's not what makes us better. We need to stay connected and lift each other. Alone, we have no chance. Even if we move out of the current situation, there will be another. We need each other. And this is coming from the person who needs no one. So I'm reminding you of this. The moments when we all feel this way are the ones when we need one another the most.

4. Given your circumstances, everything you're feeling is reasonable. It is. But those words feel both dismissive and unhelpful. They feel dismissive because my brain does not interpret them as, "I'm saying this because I want you to have the freedom to feel whatever you're feeling," which is probably the intent, but rather, "Yeah, you've been through some stuff, but you really complain about it a lot. So it's understandable. Now can we talk about the weather?" They feel unhelpful because they offer me no hint about how you feel about how I feel. I can't differentiate between trying to be empathetic and being judgmental when those words are spoken. Also, it feels like those words are said because there's nothing else to say. "You feel this way. It's understandable. Sucks to be you." So when you say those words, will you also please remind me that you're here for me? For the duration? For as long as it takes for me to become a real person again? Please?

For now, though, I'm reminding myself that when I was being a person who was raped, there were people who were brave enough to hold me tightly and reassure me that touching me was not harming them. I'm reminding myself that, ten years later, many of those people are still part of my life, and a few have become essential to it. I'm reminding myself that probably none of the things I've asked for will happen, and that the four logical points made most often by people who care about me, really are true, regardless of how I feel about them.

On a completely unrelated note: This week I will be applying for jobs. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Okay, this has to be short because it's after 1:00 a.m., and I really do need to be sleeping.

However, today I hit a wall. I've been doing all the things I'm supposed to do (mostly) to keep depression and anxiety at bay, but sometimes there are just things that are depressing. Like air so polluted it's unbreathable. And a pulled tendon in the groin that screams pretty much all day long. And so few houses on the market that the ones that are there are ridiculously priced. And a political climate that feels threatening and frightening.

There's more, but that's enough to talk about right now.

So Darrin came home today and said, "Let's go for a ride." Which we did. And I was cranky.

But Darrin had had a good day. And he told me about it. Which made me feel more cranky.

So we went to the store and got some things we needed, during which time that pesky tendon began telling me that I needed pain killer NOW. Which made me even more cranky.

On the way home, I took some pain killer and then proceeded to cry because sometimes you do that when your tendon is causing you misery, but mostly you do it because, even though you were trying not to be, you're still depressed.

And when I get depressed, my first impulse is to panic because we have no money and go to work a million hours a day so we don't end up on the street.

Except we have money. And I don't need to work like that. But it FEELS like I need to.

So Darrin said we should go home and I should finish my work project while he ran another errand, and then we should make dinner. And I needed to think about planning some activity that would keep me away from the computer tonight.

But after Darrin left, I decided I needed to practice so I did that instead which meant my work project wasn't done by the time he got home. But I did plan and arrange for an activity that would keep me away from work, so that's one thing.

We made dinner. I finished my project. Then I left with Tolkien Boy and we spent a couple of hours together which equals me not working.

When I got home, I immediately checked in with work and loaded up the sessions they had waiting for me.

And then I saved them for tomorrow.

Because it's silly for me to set myself up for another really awful day.

There are some things I cannot control. Probably tomorrow the air will be unbreathable, my tendon will still be painful, there will be a dearth of available houses to buy, and our political climate will be unchanged. But I don't have to keep working constantly. And I can get rest when I need it. And sometimes, probably, Darrin and Tolkien Boy and a few other people will let me call or visit or go get dessert with them.

And now I'm sleepy. Good night.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stable today.

When PTSD feels managed, I occasionally feel the need to just spend time with someone. Not needy, discuss feelings, tell me I'm not crazy time, but the kind of time when you just sit together quietly. Sometimes you talk a little bit. Maybe you lean against each other, just because. Sometimes you just do nothing because it's enough that you get to be together. You don't have to DO anything.

My cousin, Jeff, and I used to do that frequently. Sometimes I would read and he would take a nap. Sometimes we had snacks. Sometimes we compared hand size. Sometimes we just sat and giggled. No one understood us. We didn't care.

One time the two of us were left to make pasta sauce for the family. I don't know why. I think we were 10. We decided the sauce needed pepper. Then more pepper. And then more. With each pepper addition, we both agreed the sauce was greatly improved. The other relatives who ate it for supper disagreed.

Jeff referenced this on my Facebook page recently.

I'm still in the place where I'm surprised when someone remembers the same thing I do. I feel, often, that my memories are unique to me and no one else shares them, even if the experience was shared. I'm even more surprised when someone will say to me, "Remember when...?" It raises a host of questions for me. Why do they still remember that experience? Why do they mention it to me? What emotions do they feel when the memory arises? Is it just an interesting topic of conversation? Something we have in common?

Tolkien Boy once told me that people sometimes will bring up a shared experience because there was something that linked the two people together. They might be briefly reliving something funny or tender. It's a shared intimacy.

That makes me uncomfortable.

My memory is amazing, as long as it's not personal. Talk to me about books or poems I've read. Ask me to play the piano for a couple of hours-- all pieces memorized. Give me an hour to memorize lines from a play. Ask me about a conversation we had three years ago.

But if we shared a moment during which I felt vulnerable, there is no way I feel comfortable talking about it. Chances are, if you bring it up, I'll be trying to come up with a million ways to apologize for having that moment with you at all. And I'll probably ask you to help me come up with a plan so something like that never happens again.

When you're gone, however, when I no longer have to reconcile the fact that I may have touched or said or acted in a way that imposed intimacy on you, I'll probably, tentatively, think about how I, personally, felt in that moment. And I'll feel guilty for wanting the intimacy at all. But I'll still think about it.

And sometimes, when PTSD is at bay, and I'm not questioning my relationships or doubting that people love me, I'll wish for someone to be with me, sitting quietly, maybe talking a bit or leaning against me, just because, or perhaps just doing nothing because it's enough that we're together. And later, maybe years later, I think it would be okay for that person to say, "Remember when...?" And during the in-between time, I'll be working on saying, "Yes. That was a good thing. We should do it again."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ready to tackle PTSD once again

Someone once asked me why I waited so long to get help for PTSD. I'll be honest. I just walked away and pretended I hadn't heard. At that time, I felt it was too personal for me to answer, and I was sort of aggravated that anyone who hadn't experienced PTSD felt they had the right to question me. But the question is valid, I suppose.

I waited because:
1. I didn't know I had PTSD and wasn't diagnosed until I was hospitalized with suicidal depression about 10 years ago.
2. But even if I had known, I might have waited. Learning about and dealing with PTSD requires a lot of emotional stamina, at least for me.
3. After I was diagnosed, I still waited until I had done a great deal of research and had some idea of what post-traumatic stress disorder actually was.

About four years ago, my emotional reserves became depleted for a number of reasons. Since that time, my attempts to manage PTSD have been largely ineffective. That doesn't mean I haven't been trying. It just means I've not been successful.

I'm guessing that most PTSD symptoms follow similar trends, but also manifest themselves uniquely for each person. I can only speak for myself, of course. And I've tried to describe what happens to me when I'm overwhelmed by symptoms. But if I'm honest, I would have to say that, even here, I don't tell the truth. It's embarrassing. It feels foreign. And I feel crazy.

But I can't get better if I keep hiding what's happening. So I'm going to try, regardless of my mortification, to talk about exactly what is happening. Starting now.

I don't feel like me. The emotions and impulses are so far from what I would normally experience that they feel as if they are coming from another source. That's scary.

Always, the negative ramifications of the symptoms center around people.

I remember feeling resentful toward my mother until the age of 9. After that, I just hated her. I despised everything about her and wanted nothing from her, ever. That spilled into nearly all my interactions with people. I had become numb. I had become convinced that no one in the world would ever want me and I didn't want them, either. People made me nervous. When friendships ended, it felt like a matter of course. If they didn't end naturally, after a certain period of time, I took steps to terminate the relationships.This was my mode of social interaction for more than 25 years.

And I felt nothing about it. It just was.

When I left my roommates after a really lovely year of bonding and spending time together and falling in love with each other, I made no attempt to contact them again. When a few of them contacted me, asking if I'd like to share an apartment the next year, I felt nothing but mild surprise-- no anticipation, no delight, nothing.

Everything felt like a matter of course. I had no desire nor motivation to form or maintain permanent relationships. Darrin ended that. He was incredibly persistent. And he told me he loved me while we were just being friends and I was borrowing his car frequently. Having a friend with a car is very convenient. But my subsequent marriage to him did not end my feeling that he would leave. It was a very long time before I realized he wasn't going anywhere.

So now. What happens to me now?

It's as if every adolescent fear, anticipation, and feeling has been amplified. When PTSD hits and I'm alone, I'm angry that someone I love isn't with me. And that feeling progresses to the very mature, "If they loved me, they'd help me. I'm sad and lonely and miserable. They obviously don't care." Never mind that everyone is at work (or at 3 a.m., asleep). Never mind that they have lives and families. In that moment, clearly I am the only one who matters. And they just don't care.

Imagine for a moment how that sits in the brain of adult Samantha who studies and researches and follows lines of logic for nearly every aspect of her life.

In those moment, I am completely lost. This feels so far from what I know to be true, and yet, in that moment, it is the only thing in the world that is true. I'm in need and no one cares. People lie when they say they love me. They think I'm an inconvenience. They said they would help me, but they won't. They hug me, but they really don't want to touch me. They find me annoying. They despise me.

When I am emotionally weak, I cannot fight what is happening inside me. I try. I do everything I can think of. Even when it takes every bit of stamina, I've reached out to people. I've asked them to negate what is happening inside me. I've begged for reassurance.

Yeah. That feels horrible, too. No one likes to beg for love. But that is exactly what it feels that I'm doing. And I know when I'm reassured that I won't believe the person. Which makes me feel guilty and frustrated.

And what shall I do?

Tolkien Boy persists in reminding me that I need to be kinder to myself, more accepting, more loving.

But this THING that is happening-- this is not me. It's not. It's a cancerous beast devouring me from within. It springs from my own brain. It is fed by my past experiences and by past trauma. Who can love this?

Therapist suggests that I need to do more things to center myself and my life. He encourages me to work on relationships when I'm not overwhelmed by symptoms. And he says I need to continue to talk to people, ask for reassurance, and whenever possible, invite touch, especially when the symptoms are rampant.

But I don't know how to be not-stupid when the symptoms are present. I want to hurt people. I want to be sarcastic and vitriolic. I want to push everyone away, not pull them close. And I know it's stupid. I just don't know what to do about it.

Darrin suggests that I tell people what I'm feeling.

Ummmm... nope. I'm pretty sure no one wants to know what's happening in this head of mine during the times when I'm battling PTSD. Not only is it irrational and insane, it's ugly. It's bound to become personal. I'm trying to build my relationships with people, not destroy them.

Okay. I've said enough for now. It's out there. And it's good that most people don't read my blog. They don't need more reasons to avoid me. I need them to NOT avoid me. I need them to see all the crap coursing through me and love me anyway.

Therapist once asked me what I wanted in the most ugly moments. I said I didn't know. But I do. I want someone to pull me close, kiss me on the cheek, and tell me I am loved. I want them to acknowledge that I won't believe them, and it's okay. They'll keep saying it until I'm convinced. I want them to forgive all the horrible thoughts I have about them. I want them to hold me until the monster leaves and I can think clearly again. I want them to remember who I am when I cannot remember, myself.

Too much to ask. I know. But he asked. Maybe someday I'll tell him the truth.
Eight years ago Obama became the first black American president. And lots of people hated him. Really, really hated him. He was called Satan, Hitler, and likened to all sorts of different animals. And everything he did, good or bad, the people who hated him opposed. Everything. Even when it benefited them.

Example: President Obama wanted the U.S. to have universal healthcare that was affordable and accessible to all citizens. And even though many people wanted that, too, they didn't want it to be put in place while Obama was president. Which didn't stop them from having health insurance of one type or another through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There was another word flying around which Obama haters were really, really glad they didn't get. It was called Obamacare. They wanted nothing to do with that. Thank goodness out lawmakers had the decency to bypass Obamacare and put in place the ACA. Somehow the haters didn't get the memo that Obamacare WAS the Affordable Care Act which allowed them to procure health insurance through

And so when Mr. Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, the haters were really happy because, well, they hated Obama and Obamacare. So repealing was a really great thing. Except it wasn't because what they didn't notice because they were too busy hating Obama, was that repealing Obamacare meant that they would lose their health insurance purchased because of the Affordable Care Act which was THE SAME THING as Obamacare. They missed the memo. Because they were so wrapped up in hating a person. And now they'll be without insurance because they voted for the man who would take it away. Because they asked for it. Because they didn't recognize that what they wanted was also what they hated.

It didn't matter what Obama did during his 8-year presidency. He could help old ladies cross the street. Deplorable. He could create a cure for cancer. Despicable. He could bring end poverty and hunger and bring about world peace. Evil Incarnate.

I'm not saying he was a perfect president or person. I'm not saying he didn't make mistakes. I'm not saying I agree with every policy or decision he made. I AM saying, among those that hated him, he could not win. Ever.

And now it is my opportunity to be one who opposes our current president. And no matter how much I despise the way he treats and talks about women and minorities, no matter how many lies he repeats in his attempts to gaslight the people he leads, no matter how narcissistic and horrible he appears to me, I do not want to become one of the people who cannot see beyond the miasma of hate. I don't want to be one of them.

It's not an easy thing because I feel incredibly hurt. I am shocked and dismayed that our current president was caught on tape discussing how he can get away with sexually assaulting women because he has money and he's "famous." I'm sick that he labels people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. I hate his objectifying of women. I am afraid of his dishonesty and clear belief that anything he does is right and that he is above the laws of the land. In short, it would be a logical step for me to oppose him simply because he exists.

But that would make me one of those people. I don't want to be that.

The conflict is painful. I want to dig in and resist. I want to fantasize about his removal from office. I want to time travel into a place where he is no longer rearing his foolish head as he pretends to govern. But I need to move away from the feelings and see clearly what is happening. If it is good and healthy for my country, I need to support it, regardless of origin. If it is destructive, I need to stand with those who will help our country move toward the solution which will reinstate equilibrium and rebuild what will, inevitably, be lost.

I need to be me. I sort of feel that the freedom to be me has been taken away, and I have become reactive and resentful. Those things feel foreign. They feel uncomfortable. They feel dark.

Still, I'm not ready yet to say, "Okay, Mr. Trump, I'm willing to give you a chance." That will come later. Right now, I need to be angry and afraid. And, honestly, I don't know how long I will stay in that place. Because I'm not just angry at and afraid of our current president. I feel those same things in an even greater degree toward the constituents who elected him, some of whom are my family and friends. They elected a sexual predator to be my leader. Mine. The person who was sexually abused and/or raped by three different people before the age of 12. That's revolting.

So it's difficult not to feel like I'm once again a victim. I'm not, but the feeling persists. There are days now when I hate all men on principle. And then I weep because that's not who I am. And I'm surrounded by men who love me and treat me with respect. Men who will stand by me when I need solidarity, comfort me when I'm sad, and laugh with me when I need someone to lighten my load. Men with whom I have shared discoveries and conversations and hugs and confidences. And in spite of all that, there are still days when I cannot bear all the emotions which war within me. Because of an election. Because of a man I despise who reminds me of past abuses and is now my president.

But one day I will triumph over all this. I will not be a hater. I will not spend my time looking for reasons to be angry or feel downtrodden. I will find ways to love my life and the people in it. I will stand in defiance when my rights are threatened by those in power, and in support when, within our government, there is goodness and positivity. I will not allow myself to become so bitter and angry that I cannot see what is before my face. I will not be so blinded by hate that I cannot see the reality that one thing, called by two different names, is still one thing. I will not be them.

It's going to take time. Maybe a lot of time. Maybe four whole years.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sometimes I can't stop thinking. Probably that happens to lots of people. The trouble is that when my brain is in overdrive, I want to unload it, tell someone, talk about all the thoughts even if they're completely disconnected and meaningless.

No one is awake at my house tonight. I really need someone to be awake.

I applied for some jobs last week. In truth, I don't think I've ever really applied for a job. I've just networked into them. I don't really have that option here. What I didn't expect was that I would talk myself out of being qualified. I nitpick every job description. I'm hypercritical of my resume. And I procrastinate applying until I'm fairly certain the job has been filled. I don't know why.

So I'm expecting rejection mail soon. I need to stop doing this to myself.

I once told Therapist that I knew few people more capable than I. I think I believed it then. Today it's more difficult to believe.

We've been bidding on homes. So far, no luck. I'm trying to feel badly about this, but I don't really love the homes we're bidding on. Still, we need to be under contract for a home by the end of February at the latest. Time is slipping away. And I'm sort of terrified that we're not going to get a home. Also terrified that we will.

A single man at church tried to be my friend today. He thought, perhaps, I might like to go to dinner with him. I motioned to Darrin, across the foyer, and introduced my husband. Single Man suggested I might wear a wedding ring so people like him would know I was off limits. Off limits? Why does that phrase make me want to punch Single Man? Also, why am I upset that he wants me to wear my wedding ring?

I have a feeling that all of this stems from my defiance toward people who make decisions for me, finish my sentences, assume what I want or think, or just generally tell me what to do. Also, just for the record, if I wasn't "off limits" I still wouldn't go to dinner with Single Man. He smells like mildew. I have a problem with people who don't smell right. And I don't wear my wedding ring because I have to take it off when I practice, which means I might lose it. And I don't really wear jewelry anyway because I don't like to.

I really think I should be the one to choose whether or not I wear my ring. Side note: If Darrin asked me to wear it, I would. Not because I feel I need to be compliant, but because I love him, and if he's more comfortable when I wear it, I'm happy to do that for him. But that's easy for me to say because Darrin doesn't really worry about things like that.

I had nightmares last night. The kind that make me scream and wake everyone up. Embarrassing. I wonder if our upstairs neighbors can hear me. I'm pretty loud. Still, this was the first time I've had nightmares since coming home from Laramie. So...a whole week and a half. That's probably a record for me.

I think I might need flowers. I bought tulips for my sister's birthday last night. And when I went home I thought, "I need some of those." Tomorrow, perhaps I will buy some.

Final thoughts: I am tired of the nasty divisiveness of our nation. I am weary of the slinging of insults and personal attacks. I want to be able to say what I'm thinking without being labeled or people assuming they know a million things about me because I divulged one thought. I want people to ask questions out of genuine curiosity or interest, not because they are trying to lead the other person or prove a point. I want people to figure out how to survive without having to always be right.

That being said, I love the fact that people can be nasty and divisive and sling insults. I love the fact that people are allowed to jump to conclusions or make incorrect assumptions. I love that if someone feels they always must be right, they can pursue that goal if they choose to. What I'm saying is, while there is currently so much dishonesty and unpleasantness, I'm grateful that we have the latitude to be dishonest and/or unpleasant.

That being said, I'm not yet in a place where I feel comfortable coexisting with friends and family members who have made uncivil remarks or judgments about me. I'm not finished feeling anxious about what will happen with our country's new leader. I am still appalled that a man who won an election by inspiring fear and divisiveness, who blatantly disrespects anyone who is not him, and who verbally abuses women, minorities, and, basically, anyone who disagrees with him, will be at the helm of my country for the next four years. I still need time to process everything that has happened.

I'm trying to find moments of peace, of humor. I'm trying to spend time with safe people. I'm trying to create and work and proceed with my life. And I will. Soon.

The person who prayed in church today asked God to bless those who need to mourn. It was an odd turn of phrase. Usually we hear supplication for those who have need to mourn or, simply, for those who mourn. The words struck me. "Have need," to me, indicates that something has happened that will cause them to mourn, whether they choose to or not. And those who are mourning are doing it already. They're in the process.

But some of us NEED to mourn. We need to. Our bodies and minds are telling us that something happened, something awful. It hurt us. There was loss involved For whatever reason, we've shelved it, we're ignoring it. Perhaps facing it feels too painful. Perhaps we're just too busy and mourning will take time. Perhaps it feels like we just need to move on.

"...bless those who need to mourn..."

I need to mourn. What happens if I don't? I will continue to weaken. My brain will continue to feel clogged with messiness. Panic attacks will be randomly attached to nothing at all. I can't be the person I need to be.

What will it mean to mourn?

I don't know yet. But I think it means I'll need to write a lot more. I'll need to look at what I feel is lost or harmed or hurtful. And I will have to decide what I will do with all of that.

Okay. Brain feels less crowded now. Time for me to sleep.

Monday, January 16, 2017

I am slowly reclaiming myself. It's difficult to describe what this means. Also, it sounds completely melodramatic.

That being said, I've been noticing things changing. Therapist told me the trick to not slipping back into what I feel was despair, but could just have been silly self-indulgence, was to remember to do things that make me feel whole. So I've been doing that. 

Adam had a birthday last week. As is my tradition, I took him to choose flowers. His choice: six white roses and six orange ones. They're gorgeous. And we made his birthday dinner. Therapist says to do the things that have always made me feel happy. This birthday tradition makes me feel happy.

I've been spending time walking and thinking. And taking steps to prepare for applying for jobs. This sounds silly, but the truth is, I've really never had to do that. It's intimidating. And my resume is a mess because I have too many different job experiences to add to it. The result is unfocused. I need it to be focused. I need to get a job. I need to be able to leave my work behind me when I go home. 

I spent the day with Darrin today. I went through a weird 20 minutes when I kept telling him I needed to get home and work. Then I reminded myself that I was spending the day with him, I'd already finished working for the day, and I could do a bit more this evening if I chose to. Then I apologized, we went to a late lunch, and we spent the afternoon talking and laughing and remembering we're in love.

So it was a good day. And a nice evening. And soon I'm going to bed. 

Side note: I've had weird pain today. I think it might be related to anxiety. There's a lot of that in me right now. Anyway, pain in my chest, stomach, and joints. It became pretty severe around 9:00 p.m., but seems less intense right now. I'm hoping I can sleep. Also hoping this is a one-time thing.

Also, I really dislike my father-in-law's television choices.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And then I came home. 

Except it doesn't feel like home. 

Therapist and I talked a bit while I was away because I'd had time to think. I'd figured some things out. And also, I'd had my first opportunity in more than a year to de-stress. When I do that, I start to understand why I've been thinking craziness and acting stupid. It's a little disconcerting and a lot embarrassing.

I've spoken to people close to me. They assure me that they know, after spending lots of time with me, that this is how I work. And I should be grateful, but all I can think is, "But one day, I won't work like this anymore. That's the endgame. And when I don't, I'll be different. Then what?"

It's a problem. However, before I came home, I felt very calm about what might happen to me in regards to my relationships with other people. In fact, one of the things I said to Therapist was this: "I'm still afraid of people leaving, but not desperately so. People do leave. But sometimes it's good that they do that, for both of us. You have to choose, mutually, to have long-term relationships and allow for the misunderstandings while having the desire to continue building that relationship. Tolkien Boy calls it relentless forgiveness, but it's much more than that. But my point is, I don't feel aggravated or defensive or resentful right now about the possibility of someone deciding that they need someone different from me in their lives (Darrin excepted, of course. He doesn't get that choice.). This doesn't mean I'm not uncomfortable with the possibility, just less irrational about it."

Then I continued: "I actually don't believe the people in my life WILL leave. It's been awhile since I've been able to feel that. I'm finally able to feel what my brain is telling me when it says, 'Um, Sam, your kids call you all the time. This isn't because they feel guilty or obligated. You didn't raise them that way. It's because they miss you just like you miss them.' And, 'You're ridiculous. You have people who have been your friend for 10 years now. Do you understand that many people don't even have 10-year friends? They're not leaving because you've worked together to build something that will last.' Or, 'You've been married a long time. Stop making up scenarios in which Darrin will finally be free of you. He doesn't want to be free. He wants to be married. Start being married and stop worrying about things that aren't real.' Yeah, my brain is much smarter than the rest of me. But the point is, while I'm here, all that paranoid crap feels just like paranoid crap."

But the problem is that if I'm not able to find space and time to work through stress, I'll be right back in the place where the paranoid crap seems feasible and the most likely scenario for my life. And nothing anyone says or does will make a dent in my certainty that the paranoid crap is reality.

I don't want to go there again. 

So this week I am working on buying a house and getting a job outside my home. Darrin and I are going to take some time to talk about boundaries we need to protect our independence and intimacy as a couple. And I am going to figure out how to enjoy being close with people once again instead of being crazy afraid of physical and emotional closeness. I'm going to do it.

There were so many nice things that happened while I was gone. Good, building things. I needed that. I had good conversations with a couple of people who have made a place for me in their lives for more than a decade. I made up new beautiful, creative, delicious recipes. I haven't done that for awhile. I spent time reading and writing. I haven't written anything other than emails and whiny blog posts for more than a year. I went out with people and had fun. I spent a day with my parents and worked with my dad in his office. I shoveled snow for hours. I watched the sun rise and set every day. 

Today was my first day home. I won't lie. It was pretty awful. Lots of depression waiting to descend. Frustration. Uncertainty. But I'm going to be okay. More than okay. I'm going to figure this out. Tomorrow I will go running. I'll practice. I'll work a bit. I'll look and apply for jobs. And I appointments to see two homes. Right now I don't feel like being with anyone, but on Monday I'm going to see if Jeff will have lunch with me. I'm glad he decided not to die. 

For now, though, I'm going to sleep. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Not Sleepy

That makes me giggle a little. I think those words have come out of my mouth more than any others. My mother speaks of the time when I was an infant. Most babies will fall asleep while eating or shortly thereafter. I would stay awake for hours. I wasn't fussy, just not sleepy. She said it made her nervous. I would just quietly look around.

Later, as a toddler and preschooler, I would fight naps with a vengeance. My mother's solution was to read to me. Most often, she would be the one who ended up napping. I would finish the story by myself. Resting was not an issue for me. I was fine lying in bed and looking at books or coloring. Sleep just wasn't my thing.

As a preteen, Sunday was a day when everyone napped. Sleep seemed to be something one should want. So I trained myself to go to sleep for an hour or two. Inevitably, I would wake feeling frustrated, grouchy, and ill. The sensations stayed with me for three or four hours, especially the nausea. I felt the same way if I tried to sleep late in the mornings.

So in a house full of people who valued sleep, I learned to silently entertain myself until around midnight, sleep four or five hours, then wake up. I'd get ready for school, then when everyone else awoke, I'd practice the piano until the bus came. I'm pretty sure no one appreciated my practicing, but no one ever asked me to stop.

Throughout my life, I've maintained that sleep pattern. Sometimes I'll go to bed earlier, but that means I'll be up around 4:00 a.m. That's fine, I suppose, but it also means I have to be sure I don't disturb anyone while I do things. I've spent a lot of time reading during the early hours of morning. In the summertime, I'd go running and watch the sun rise. Every once in awhile, I'd try that napping thing again with disastrous results. I'm usually pretty easygoing. Naps still make me grouchy and impossible. And sick.

So it's 1:00 a.m., and I'm not sleepy. As usual.

I've been having nightmares the past few day; the kind that end up drenching me in cold sweat. That could be part of the reason I don't want to sleep tonight. There is also a sense of no longer belonging in the place I lived more than 20 years which is unsettling. And there are so many memories here. Good ones. My children were born and grew up here. It's a lovely place. And I don't belong anymore.

I will be back in my apartment on Thursday. I don't belong there, either, but it's where my clothes are. And Darrin. I belong with Darrin.

Tabitha salvaged many of the Christmas decorations I discarded when we moved. She still has them out in her apartment. One of the items she took was a wooden Rudolph I made years ago. I cut, sanded, and stained the wood, then painted on the face. There used to be fake snow atop his antlers and around his hoofs. Time has worn that away leaving splotches of white where the texture used to be. I drilled holes in the bottom of the antlers so the kids could hang candy canes in them (I know-- who hangs candy canes in reindeer antlers???). I painted on a smile and large eyes, and then, for some unknown reason, I painted a heart in the middle of his forehead instead of giving him eyebrows.

Tabitha has always loved our wooden Rudolph. She has made sure his antlers always had candy canes. She was indignant when I threw him away. I said, "Tabitha, he's old. I made him years ago." She said, "You made him. It doesn't matter when." I think that's sweet. I also don't really understand it.

So tonight Rudolph is keeping me company. I feel a bit offended by his insistent reminder that once I made crafty things and I don't even know why. He also is in desperate need of a new ribbon for the wreath around his neck. But he's quiet and doesn't disturb my thinking. AtP once accused me of thinking too much, and he might be right. That's not something that's likely to ever change.

Okay. Time for me to attempt sleep. Perhaps Rudolph will keep the nightmares at bay tonight. I'd like that.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Today a Facebook acquaintance posted something she wrote ten years ago. It was a lovely memory from a time before I met her. I thought I'd like to do something similar, so I went back to my decade-old posts to find something to add to my own Facebook feed. I ended up posting nothing.

2007 was not a year I wish to share on social media. This was the year I did a number of things that were incredibly important to my therapy and healing, but not necessarily things that make good reading nor pleasant memories. I screened very little. I wrote whatever I thought or felt. As I read, I was surprised at how difficult it was to process that I was the person who typed the words. I knew the experiences were mine. I also knew it happened a long time ago.

Key things that occurred in 2007:
1. I was suffering from nightmares which robbed me of sleep. Sometimes I would go for a few days without sleeping. I was terrified of the nightmares even when I was awake.
2. I devised a plan whereby I would learn to control my dreams. Tolkien Boy agreed to help me with this. I was successful, but in the process, I learned a number of things about myself which were unsettling and surprising and required more therapy.
3. I decided it would be helpful to go see the person who raped me. Originally, I planned to go by myself. Most of my friends asked me not to do that. A few offered to go with me. In the end, Tolkien Boy accompanied me to lunch with the rapist, then stayed with me while I tried to manage all the crap that stirred up. Was it helpful to meet my rapist face to face under circumstances I controlled? Absolutely. It was also one of the most unpleasant things I've ever done. In my blog I recorded our email correspondence as we arranged to meet for lunch. That was difficult to read.
4. 2007 was the year my therapist moved to Utah. He tried to connect me with another local therapist who would help me continue what I had started. I insisted I was fine. I needed no more therapy. A few weeks later, I found myself in the mental health ward of the hospital on suicide watch. While I was there, I was diagnosed with PTSD. When the psychiatrist explained what that was, many things fell into place. I was relieved that I wasn't crazy and that many of the things I was experiencing were due to PTSD. I was also alarmed that I had something. I wasn't normal. And I didn't really know what having PTSD would mean for the rest of my life. Research was not reassuring.

And now, here I am. I've been whining for at least a year about how much my life is not what I want it to be. I've been allowing my life to be controlled by PTSD symptoms. I've been lamenting and moaning about dealing with surgeries and Darrin's job loss and difficulties with moving. I have, in short, been insufferable.

And honest.

Everything I've written is a genuine feeling or experience. But my attitude is ridiculous.

I've been in Laramie for four days now. Much of the time I've been alone. I've had moments to quietly think. And it's been snowing - beautiful, sparkling snow. So much snow. I spent three hours shoveling it yesterday. This morning there was no sign of my work. And it's so cold. Tonight it is -28 degrees, but still incredibly beautiful.

I told Tolkien Boy a few weeks ago that I chose to do everything I am currently doing because it was the right thing to do. And it's still the right thing. It's just not what I want to do. I'm doing the right thing, but I don't want to. So, what do I want to do?

That is a question I've not been able to answer. How can I possibly do things I want to do if I don't know what they are?

So I've been thinking about that for the past few days. I need to identify what I want. This is my partial list:
1. I want to be finished with buying a house. That means I need to find the house we want and purchase it as soon as possible. I don't want to look anymore. I want to be done.
2. I want alone time with Darrin. Lots of it. And I don't want to feel guilty about not including my father-in-law. It is not unreasonable for me to spend time with my husband often and alone. I need this to happen. I need to facilitate it.
3. I want space for me. This can't happen yet, but it has to happen soon. I need my alone time. I need to think and plan and visualize. I can't continue healing if I don't have this, neither can I manage PTSD. When I don't have such time, I become whiny and aggravated. All my close relationships become victims as I question the motives of people I love, as well as my own self-worth. I need this personal space and time. It needs to be uninterrupted and quiet.
4. I want to spend time with Tolkien Boy. As I write this, my brain is wildly questioning why I single him out. But the truth I found today in my ten-year-old blog posts is that when I spend time with Tolkien Boy, I'm able to understand a great deal about myself. Part of this is that we've become very close and accepting of one another. Another part is that some of my most profound experiences have been shared by him. So while I want to spend time with many people whom I love deeply, I sort of NEED that time with Tolkien Boy. And as with my personal time, I need time with him that is dedicated to just being with him and no one else.
5. I want to spend time with others I love. I've been avoiding that for the past four months. I've gone to lunch with AtP. That's all. The week after Christmas, I hosted a small dinner party, and I visited a couple of friends I've been wanting to see. And I finally spent time with my cousin, Jeff. He's not dead. In fact, he's working on putting his life back together. He believes that this time he'll be successful. He quit his job, moved in with his parents, and is spending the next six months working on himself. At some point in the near future, he would like me to help him find a therapist. I need to spend time with him and with other people I love.

So where does all this time come from? I don't know.

However, being with people doesn't require days on end, but usually only an hour or so. I can budget that into my week. And it won't add to the stress in my life, but rather, will ease it. I need to be with people I love. Spending time with them helps me balance PTSD symptoms and remember who I am.

I'm going to talk with Therapist about all this. He can help me figure out how to do this without becoming obsessive about it. He's already assigned me to do numbers 2, 3, and 4 on my list, so the rest will follow naturally.

It's time to stop whining and do something real. I think I'm finally ready.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Starting Over


Therapist tells me the regression I perceive is exaggerated. He also said if his life was close to mine in terms of stress - physical, mental, and emotional, he would be in the hospital. I don't believe him on either count.

There are times when I cannot understand why the people who have experienced life with me as a part of it for the past 10 years are still doing that. Therapist says this is because my self-esteem has taken a large hit as PTSD symptoms have increased in intensity and duration.

The sudden, overwhelming depression continues to come at least once daily. I know what it is now. I know what to expect. I'm taking steps to manage it when I'm able to catch my breath. Therapist says this is happening because I need to escape.

I have been terrified to touch people. The thought of it has overwhelmed me to the point that I've been known to run away suddenly just because I don't think I can manage hugging or not hugging-- either seems scary. Therapist says I've not had healthy, non-sexual touch as I have needed it, probably for more than a year.

I operate, socially, at a level of paranoia I haven't seen for many, many years. I want to do something with someone, but I can't ask because they might say no. I want to visit with someone, but I can't go (or if I do go, I can't stay) because I might be unwanted or intruding. I want to call someone, but I don't because they might not want to talk to me. In short, I am undermining my ability to interact with anyone. Therapist says when I have stress at the level I've experienced for more than eight months, it can be impossible to navigate boundaries or understand social nuances which creates social paranoia.

Darrin and I have been talking past one another for almost two months now. We love each other, but we don't always get along. Sometimes one of us snaps at the other for no reason. Therapist reminds me that I've always said people need time away from each other. Darrin and I need time away. We're spending too much time in the same place, doing the same things.

There's more. So much more. But these are the things Therapist asked me to work on:
1. I am to create more positive scenarios about why the people who love me are still here. And I'm supposed to ask them to tell me why. That's not comfortable at all.

2. I am to take steps to seek out sunshine and exercise. And take more vitamin D (my idea). And when the depression hits, as soon as I am able, I'm supposed to find a person to talk to, either real or online. I'm supposed to ask for reassurance. Again, uncomfortable.

3. I am to visualize myself in physical contact with another person, preferably that contact should last longer than 30 seconds. It can be something as simple as sitting next to the person and allowing our arms to touch. Therapist would prefer that I have an arm around me or a real hug or a hand to hold. I am not comfortable with this. Surprise!

4. I am to make appointments to be with people I love. I am to spend time with them. We can do some sort of activity or we can sit and stare at the wall together. I am to pretend that they like being with me. I am to tell myself how glad they are that I want to be with them. I am to understand the social boundaries are not put in place to push me away. I am to put effort into understanding social norms and nuances and function within those norms. This is beyond uncomfortable. It feels impossible.

5. Darrin and I are to have one scheduled evening just for us. It doesn't have to be long, but it does have to be one-on-one. And then we are to schedule time, weekly, alone. With no one else. Not working. Doing something we enjoy. Which means I have to figure out what I enjoy. This feels beyond impossible.

Therapist told me, once again, he's not going anywhere. He said, again, he loves working with me. He suggested I make a follow-up appointment, but then said he'll allow me to choose when that will be. Then he said, "Sam, given your background and your current circumstances and the physical health problems you've experienced in the past five years, there is no reason for you to be sitting in front of me, well-adjusted and coping. Any other of my clients would be drinking constantly or hospitalized. You're doing better than fine. I honestly don't know where you find the strength to do what you're doing without breaking."

Except I do break. All the time. And then I pull myself together. Nothing else makes sense. I don't like it when things don't make sense. And even though I hate everything Therapist has assigned, I'll do it. Because I think I trust him. And I desperately want to feel better.

So if you're in my life (and Tolkien Boy has already had a taste of this), expect me to contact you. If you live near me, I'll be asking for a real hug. And I might sit next to you. And our arms might touch. Just for a few minutes. And it will be okay. You won't die of contamination, and I won't implode. Therapist has promised this is so.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dear everyone who has ever been in my life,

I suppose I need to mention that I'm writing this at a very obnoxious time in my life. I'm experiencing random dips throughout the day. One moment I'm calm, sane, happy even. The next I'm so sad I can't stop crying. I have fleeting thoughts of ways to end my life that are odd and unwelcome. I'll be doing something mundane: loading the dishwasher, showering, using the bathroom, drinking water, and the thought will come: I could just               (fill in the blank)             right now, and then things will be better. I'll be better. I'll be dead. And better.

This feels different from suicidal depression (I've been there before). It feels like desperation depression. I've been is an intensely difficult situation for more than a year. I've had major surgery and shortly thereafter, moved to a different state after living in one place for more than 20 years. I'm living in less than optimum circumstances. I think it's understandable that my brain is opting out of everything right now.

So anything I write this morning is suspect.

This is a confession.

I think, when I was a child, I actually had friends. I think I had them more than once. I remember having two very close friends in third grade. But then my family moved, as they did every couple of years for the first decade of my life. It was harder making friends after that final move, but I remember having them.

After I was raped, it was more difficult to have friends. I spent a year with none. Then, when I was in 8th grade, a group of girls adopted me. I don't think any of them really thought of me as a friend, but they sat with me during classes, ate with me at lunch, and invited me to their parties. Maybe they thought I was their friend? I think that's what friends do when they're in 8th grade. But I felt nothing for them except gratitude. It was nice to have a group. I didn't belong with them, but they made sure I was not alone. I appreciated that.

I had friends in high school.

I think, though, that I didn't really. I had learned by that time to cope and cover up and pretend. I had subconsciously figured out that you can socialize, and even enjoy yourself, without connecting deeply. You can have fun. You can like people. But you're safest if you let them talk, but never talk about yourself, if you entertain, but never confide, if you interact and laugh and smile and never, never, never let people know if you're sad. This pattern of behavior continued long into adulthood and marked my interactions even (or perhaps especially) with my siblings and parents.

And it worked for a long time. But not really.

And one day I came here. Here, where people often wrote things they would never say, things that could not be said aloud or to another person. This was a place of truth. When I joined, I didn't always write truth. I couldn't. I didn't know how. But I practiced. And I joined the community of truth while writing half-truths.

I wrote about my past. I became more truthful as I allowed myself to accept what had happened to me. It took years. Bit by bit, I allowed myself to write more truths. Eventually I came to a place where I could speak the words. I suppose that meant I was healing.

But what I did not expect was that I would find people here who cared about me. Well, cared about Samantha, whom I created. Some of them went a step further. They wanted to meet Samantha's creator. They wanted to know who I was. They wanted to be friends.

I don't think I expected that.

Still, I allowed it to happen. I had an ironclad persona. I was likable and funny. I had nothing to fear. The persona had been practiced to perfection. I forgot that these people had read my truth right here as Samantha told her story.

So this was a new experience. I was interacting with people who sometimes read the honest words I wrote about my past, my present, my feelings, and my life. This created an unexpected, instant intimacy. I was not prepared for that.

Suddenly, there were people with whom I was falling in love. I wanted them in my life. I knew about them in the same way they knew about me. I felt close to them, connected somehow. It was very uncomfortable.

Online interaction became in-person interaction with a few people I had met here. There were phone calls and visits, as we all lived in different places. We chatted online whenever possible. And as our emotional closeness increased, I began to panic. I wasn't used to this. Only my husband and children, people who lived with me, were allowed emotional intimacy with me.

I found myself vacillating between joy and contentment during our interactions and intense fear, guilt, and paranoia when we were not interacting. I made deadlines for myself: On this day, I have to end my friendship with         (fill in the blank)       . Or I would set the timer so that an online or telephone conversation wouldn't last too long. Or I would turn off my phone or not log into my chat program for a few days so that everyone would have a break from me.

I didn't want to risk people getting tired of me. I wanted them.

A few people became very close friends. This was even more upsetting and uncomfortable for me. And very scary. I started a different blog under a different blognym so that I could write down my thoughts and feelings. The blog was private. The thoughts and feelings were private. Mostly because they were insane.

In my new blog I talked about how afraid I was. I talked about the things I assumed those who were closest to me thought and said about me when I wasn't there. I made plans for how I would cope when the people I loved left me. I wrote them letters. I composed pretend conversations. I said the words they were thinking (what I assumed they were thinking) for them. I told myself, in their voices, that this was all temporary, that I was too messed up, that in the end, it was too much stress for them to stay with a person like me.

It was a blog where I allowed myself to be verbally and emotionally abused and, ultimately, abandoned by the people I love.

You might wonder why I would do that. It seems insane, yes?

Keep in mind that I've been abused physically, mentally, and emotionally from my earliest memories. Keep in mind that the number one perpetrator of the abuse was someone who, traditionally, nurtures and loves. Keep in mind that I was isolated, emotionally, from other people for many, many years.

I suppose I needed to prepare. I loved these people so much that if they decided to harm or abandon me, I needed to be strong enough to withstand the damage. So I was practicing. It's what I do. I'm a musician, after all. By allowing myself to feel what I would feel in the event that people hurt me or left me, I was preempting the feelings of overwhelming loss that would inevitably occur, so when they actually happened, I would be okay.

It's a trick I learned as a child. I knew that when I came home from school, my mother would be there waiting. She wouldn't want to hear about my day. She wouldn't hug me or say she was glad to see me. She would have found something while I was gone: my room wasn't clean, or my bed wasn't made right; she'd found a dish I'd washed that wasn't quite clean: there would be laundry to fold or other chores to do; or she would just be angry and yell about something I didn't understand. I knew that was waiting.

So on the walk home (or later, on the bus ride home), I would spend the first ten to fifteen minutes allowing myself to feel the fear and agony of her berating me, demeaning me, and then the next ten to fifteen minutes numbing myself to those feelings by losing myself in a book (bus ride) or stopping briefly to play at a park (when I was in walking distance of school and home). Then, when the event finally happened, I was able to not respond. I'd already felt the feelings. There were none left. I could allow her to yell, or hit, or whatever she might do without crying. I WOULD NOT CRY.

And so, when I began to care, really care about the people who seemed to care back, I was terrified. I needed a place to feel what I would feel when they betrayed my trust, when they found someone new and left me behind, when they suddenly recognized they were bored or emotionally drained by me. And when they suddenly disappeared, above all, I wanted to be sure that I WOULD NOT CRY.

Okay, maybe even with that explanation, the abuse blog seems over the top and very crazy. I can't apologize or even explain more. This is who I am. I have learned that the best offense is a good defense. I have been protecting myself for a very long time. And while I have longed with all my heart to allow others to protect me sometimes, it has become abundantly clear that I would probably not allow it. Because I don't trust anyone. Because I'm pretty much broken. Because who, after years of no abuse, creates a blog so she can experience imaginary abuse from people who actually don't have the time, energy, or desire to abuse her?


That's all.

The blog still exists. I'm working with Therapist to put it to rest. It might take another decade. And in the meantime, I'm left thinking, "I am such a freak. There is no way I can ever become the person I pretend to be-- the one people like." And there are days, like today, when trying to become that person seems pointless.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

It is very late and I have an early morning, so this will be as brief as I can possibly make it and still say what's on my mind tonight.

After more than a decade, I think I finally understand.

A very short explanation so that I might be as clear as possible:

For many years I avoided intimacy and close relationships because I did not understand them. And I thought I was fine. I had lots of less close, non-intimate relationships. And I had Darrin who was safe because we were married. It's harder to dissolve a marriage relationship than a friendship.

But then a therapist suggested I needed more authentic interaction with people. And connection-- I needed that, too, apparently. And close ties to more people than Darrin and my children. And because I trusted my therapist, I tried it out. But I still didn't understand any of it.

I didn't understand that people form very close relationships with friends and family and others who fall somewhere in between those two descriptors. And those relationships wax and wane and everyone seems okay with that. Except me. I was never okay with it. And I didn't understand why when you love someone, you don't do everything in your power to work together to keep a healthy, close, fulfilling relationship with one another.

But I think I understand now.

When it comes to intimacy and relationships (excluding sexual intimacy), I am a child. I think and feel as a child does. Holding a hand, cuddling, sharing physical proximity feels very much to me as though I am being protected and loved. There is nothing more to it. And I want that. I did not receive it as a child. As an adult, I wish for it more than ever.

Except, I'm not a child. What I deem innocent and healthy, to another, might be crossing boundaries, unwelcome, and uncomfortable.

I'm not a child. Adults have moved beyond the need to be protected and have learned to protect themselves. And I do protect myself. To the point that I will deny myself of any physical touch at all, lest I want more. I protect myself because someone has to. And I can. But while I'm doing that, I cannot say I don't wish for a moment of intimacy when someone else will protect my heart and my being. Because those are moments when I feel most cherished. And now I'm right back to being a child.

So I understand that I don't see things in the relationship arena as other adults do. I see and feel differently. I learned at a very, very young age to build walls and shut people out. I learned that no one is to be trusted. But I want to let them in. And I want to trust them.

But my adult self understands that boundaries and limits make people feel safe and make relationships healthy. Boundaries are not the same as walls, but for me, they seem the same. When someone shows me a boundary: "I want you in my life, but do not cross this line," or "I want you in my life, but not often or for a prolonged period of time," or "I want you in my life-- except sometimes I don't," that's when I get all muddled. Because I'm not sure what they're really saying. They could be saying one thing when they mean something else. Or they could mean exactly what they are saying.

But either way, suddenly I have to negotiate a boundary I don't understand completely.

"I want you in my life, but do not cross this line." Why? What do you think will happen if I cross it? Do I present a danger or an inconvenience? What is it about me that makes you feel I am a threat? Or is it just that you need a limit so that you can feel safe? Help me understand.

"I want you in my life, but not often or for a prolonged period of time." Why? What will happen if you see me more than once or twice a month? What will happen if we spend hours or even days together? Will you be bored? Will you feel stressed that I'm here? Do I talk too much? What if I shower first? Will that help? Or is it just that spending lots of time with me makes you feel stressed and you need some time in-between to regroup? Help me understand.

"I want you in my life-- except sometimes I don't." Why? What is it about me that makes you not want me in your life? And how do you function having me there sometimes, but then making sure I'm erased and forgotten when you don't want me? What is it about the on-again/off-again friendship that makes you feel happier and more secure? Or is it just that a close relationship with me requires time and work and commitment, and you don't have time to work or be committed right now? Help me understand.

Except I think I finally do understand.

It's not personal. Not really. In an adult world, people seem to function daily with a significant other. That's the daily person. And then there are those who get together with non-significant others on weekends. Sometimes the non-significant others are always the same people. They're a group. They rely on each other for entertainment and companionship. They know who they'll be with, and they're comfortable with that. But those are weekend people. More than a weekend can be too much.

Sometimes the weekend people are different all the time. Then the adults have lots of people for entertainment and companionship. Not knowing who they'll be with each week is part of the fun. They meet new friends and have even more weekend people to choose from . But those are still just weekend people.

And then there are the people who used to be daily people before the significant other became significant. Sometimes they stay in the picture and become weekend people. But other times, they feel a huge loss because they're no longer daily people, and, unable to negotiate the feelings of loss, they drop out of sight. But then sometimes, they'll call or drop in for lunch just to catch up every six months, or even annually. Those aren't daily or weekend people. They're occasional people. But they still care about the person they used to be with daily. It just hurts too much to know they're not daily people anymore even if they understand why.

It seems that most everyone is okay with this. But I couldn't be. Because I'm still a child. I still want to hold a hand sometimes, or cuddle, or have close physical proximity that feels protective and loving. I still want to be important and cherished. I want to be the every day person, not the weekend or occasional person. Even when my adult self explains to my child self that it's okay to be less present, and that adult people show love differently to other adults, and that you can't always be first choice, I still want those things.

So now I understand the why. And when someone puts a wall or a boundary in place, I accept it without argument. Because I'm trying to be an adult about this. But inside there is a very young voice desperately trying to remind the person pushing me back a bit, that they're missing out. That they really do need me and want me, just as I need and want them, but they got distracted by some adult person or thing. And sharing intimate, sweet moments with me more often will be better than whatever or whomever they've found to replace me. And besides, I need them, too.

And then I go wash the dishes, or do real adult-person work, and remind myself that it's healthy for people to have boundaries. It makes them feel safe. It allows them to regroup. And it gives them time needed to build relationships with their significant other, or someone else very important.

But that pesky part of me that didn't grow up just howls indignantly and refuses to be comforted. Understanding rarely solves the real problem. And that is the most adult discovery I have ever made.

Friday, December 9, 2016

I stopped writing because I'm frustrated. And I feel that most of what is causing me distress is deserved because it's somehow my own fault.

As expected. my FIL is causing complications. And there are other complications. And I don't want any of them.

Complication 1: I don't want to buy a home with my FIL on the title. But he's providing the down payment. So if he's not on the title, a little more than half the down payment becomes taxable income to Darrin and I. And that's a lot. Are there ways to alleviate this problem? Yes. But FIL isn't listening to me. He would need to gift half the money in 2016 and the other half in 2017. Again, he's not listening. He wants to keep that money in his bank account until the home is purchased. There could be some pretty severe money problems unless he allows the gifting in the next couple of weeks. Or I could back off and let his name be on the title. Which I don't want.

Complication 2: I feel trapped. Everything makes me feel trapped. If you ask me how I feel, regardless of the circumstance, I'll feel trapped. How do I get untrapped (not a word - don't care)?

Complication 3: Darrin is making great friends and is beginning to enjoy his new job. This is a good thing. No, this is a GREAT thing. When Darrin feels part of a community, he could be working the most sucky job in the world, but he'll still love it. So why is this a complication? I don't know. Maybe because it means I'm still working from home. Which means I'm basically alone during the day. Which is complicated.

Complication 4: I'm lonely. I don't know why I'm lonely. Actually, I do know. This is what begins to occur when I've been not-touching. Touch for me, lately, comes in the form of brief hugs from Darrin and Tolkien Boy and his husband. That's enough, right? Apparently it's not. I hate this. I don't want to need touch. But when I'm feeling that I CAN'T touch anyone because it's bad for them, I start to get a little weird. And at this point, I would have to say, I'm way past weird.

Complication 5: I don't have a lot of time. I'm taking time now to write because if I don't do something I am going to lose my mind. But I don't have a lot of time. I'm supposed to be working. FIL had the gall last night to suggest I work too much. Yep. He said that after telling me he wouldn't be able to help with the household bills this month. I work too much? I wonder why...

Complication 6: Adam wants to play. When I get the way I am now, I'm not emotionally available to anyone. Darrin calls me pleasantly plastic, which is fair. But it makes Adam crazy. He comes home from work and wants to go for walks or a drive. He wants to talk with me. I love talking with him. See Complication 5.

The bottom line here is that I'm not in a place where I can make changes. And I don't necessarily have the resources anyway. So this is a whine. I hate whining.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I started this blog a long time ago because I needed a place where I could be honest. I think even when I was trying to be honest, though, there were times when I censored myself. People were reading, after all...

But that was years ago. No one really reads anymore unless they stumble here by accident. So have no more reason to worry about how my words might upset someone I know. So raw honesty today. Because I really, really need to say this.

I am angry. There has been a series of events during the past few years from which I have not recovered emotionally, and for some, also physically. I feel broken, unable to function, and defeated. And it makes me angry. It seems, no matter how far I climb upward, there is something that will knock me right back down. How many times can that cycle happen before one says, "This is crap. I think I'll just live here at the bottom, because no matter how ugly and uncomfortable it is, it's better than believing I can make it to the top when I know I really can't. Something will stop me."

I am bitter. I wanted so badly to believe that people in this country - MY country - would never elect a man who espouses everything that terrifies me, personally. This goes beyond the political terror he inspires; his discussion of deploying nuclear weapons, his insult to international communities, his inability to become a public figure with any semblance of dignity or decency. This is personal. This is a man who will disparage a woman because of her appearance, her reproductive system, her gender. One has only to lack a Y chromosome to be in his line of fire. This is a man who will not defend my right to be safe. If I am groped, attacked, raped, surely, he will say, I deserved it. This is a man who does not respect the boundaries of marriage. From his own lips he has said he takes what he wants, married or not, because he has money. In my eyes, this man is evil. And now he is my president-elect. And I feel bitter that they people who elected him disregarded all the things that would cause me to feel unsafe in my country and my home. I wanted them to care about the things I care about. They didn't.

I am alone. This is my own doing. Tolkien Boy said, "I don't know what more I can say or do to make you feel more welcome." I don't know either. But it's not him. It's EVERYONE. I can't be with anyone anymore. I'm trying like crazy. I'm working so hard to combat the PTSD symptoms that tell me:
1. No one wants you, Sam.
2. No one is safe, Sam.
3. No one will protect you, Sam.
4. No one cares, Sam.
Those things aren't true. I know they're not true. But they're still there. WHY ARE THEY STILL THERE???? And so I do the dance of placing myself in positions where I spend time with people I love, but my stomach is sick with stress and my brain feels like it's exploding because it's constantly arguing about whether or not this is a good idea. And sometimes that condition is more deeply lonely than actually being alone.

I am sad. I can't seem to bounce back. Nothing feels happy right now. And for me, this is such foreign territory. I have had the luxury most of my life of naturally gravitating to happy, regardless of my circumstances. Not so now. Part of this is that I'm living in a garden level apartment and my sunshine exposure is minimal, especially in the morning. Part of this is that there has been too much difficult everything without adequate recovery time. Part of this is that I know I'm messed up, but I don't seem to have the energy to put myself back together. Part of this is that I'm living in a circumstance that I chose, but I chose it because it needed to be chosen, not because I wanted it.

I feel guilty. Things that make me feel guilt:
1. I don't want to live with my father-in-law. I never have. I'm doing it because he needs to live with us. But I do not want it. I have no relationship with him. I don't want a relationship with him.
2. I haven't gone running regularly for the past two weeks. I didn't go running last week because I was in Laramie and the weather wasn't great and I am a wimp. Also, I didn't want to pay $8 a day to go running at a gym. And I've only gone once this week because, since returning from Laramie, I don't want to do anything. Not running means I don't have the emotional stamina to manage PTSD which means everything I've talked about in this blog feels worse. And I know I need to do it. I just haven't.

I feel helpless. Which is stupid. I'm one of the most capable people I know. But even doing simple things makes me feel overwhelmed. Cooking dinner, making my bed, taking a shower-- everything feels like it's too much. I have developed so many different skills and healthy ways to cope with stress and difficulty. But it feels too difficult to use any of them. I know what to do. I just don't do it.

I feel confused. Mostly about people. I don't really know how to talk to them anymore. My brain can't seem to make room for what they want to say. I've lost my ability to listen and care. All I can think while they're speaking is, "I need to get away and hide somewhere." This is not like me at all. Who have I become? Am I so wrapped up in myself that I can't make room for people I love? I don't even know me anymore. I hate this person I now am. In addition, I don't feel I know people anymore. People I've spent incredible amounts of time with now feel like strangers. There's no connection when we're together. Just a big, huge, confusing barrier which I somehow put in place all by myself. Why would I do that? Who am I?

I have been in touch with Therapist. A lot, actually. He says things take time. That just makes me want to lie on the floor and weep. What do I DO during that time? Therapist says I'm doing it. I'm letting myself feel what's happening. I'm recognizing that I've been wounded. That also makes me want to lie on the floor and weep. Therapist says a step forward would be to seek healthy touch (my stomach just tried to throw up), take time to myself (REALLY?? Did he forget that I'm never alone?), do things I enjoy (I don't even know what those are anymore), and try to connect with people I love (I think I've lost that superpower forever). I finally told him I'd be making an appointment in the future, but right now I can't even find the words to talk about what's happening to me. And I can't. Not even here on my blog, so I'm going to stop now.