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Friday, May 19, 2017

I've been writing a lot lately. Not publishing, just writing. I suppose I don't publish because it just feels so negative. On the surface it might seem that I have no right to react negatively to my situation. I have a new lovely home. I live in a beautiful neighborhood. My neighbors reach out to us and like us. It's spring. The flowers I love are blooming like crazy.

But beneath it all, I'm floundering for so many reasons.

I'm working through it though. Every day I force myself to do at least two things that are expedient. I fell behind a lot in my work assignments when I was not well earlier this month. It's taking longer than I had hoped to catch up. But I'm slowly doing so. I'm applying for jobs, as well.

Yesterday I had one of the most satisfying runs I've had for a long time. It's been a few years since I've run for more than an hour and still felt I could continue. I'm carrying more pounds than I ever remember having, so I didn't think I'd hit this point until I'd lost those. It's going to take some time before they leave, though, so I'm glad running is becoming easy again in spite of them.

I haven't been back to see Therapist for awhile. Part of the reason is because I'm not ready to talk about anything. It's pointless to go to therapy when you aren't willing to talk. That's sort of the point. I'm aware of what's going on. I know I need some help. But there are a lot of external things that need to see resolution before I can do any inner work. And also, there are some things happening that I'm not ready to talk about with him.

One of those things is that my sensation of touch is returning, not just to my hands, but other parts of my body. The emotions this invokes are difficult to manage. There are moments when I touch my skin, realizing I can feel not only the touch, itself, but the hand that is touching also has sensation. There are two parts to touch. Therapist would tell me this is wonderful. He would say it's proof of the amount of healing I've done.

But it's more complicated than that.

As I feel the physical responses, I'm deeply aware that for many, many years I did not. And I had no idea that I was missing anything. I thought that's how everyone experienced touch. If someone touched me, I could feel that. But when I touched someone, I didn't really feel anything. It's difficult to explain. If my hand was held, I was aware that was happening. There was a sense of warmth, or comfort, or romance, depending on the situation, I suppose. What I was not feeling was that the other person's skin has a texture and shape. When you touch a person's arm, you can feel the hair on the surface of their skin. And they can feel those things on me, too, when I am touched.

I feel embarrassed that I did not know. I feel angry that I was abused to the point that I stopped feeling physical sensation. I feel robbed that the experiences I thought I understood and participated in, were only partially perceived by me. And then I feel stupid that it means so much to me. It's not like I felt nothing. I just didn't feel all of it.

About a month ago, I gave Tolkien Boy a kiss on the cheek. I've done that before dozens of times. But this time I felt it-- the brush of his beard, the warmth of his skin. And suddenly it felt like I kissed a real person. It was a gesture with meaning because I had a tactile response to it? I don't know. And of course, it freaked me out. Everything freaks me out.

The ability to feel back (for want of a better descriptor) is causing me some distress. It's distracting. I want to stay in the moment or return to it frequently. It feels like my body is trying to understand something it thought it already knew. My hands and arms and legs and feet and lips and cheeks-- all of my skin can feel the things it touches. And I knew that. But I've never really felt it, literally. Or, at least, not that I can remember.

Sometimes I find myself stroking a fabric simply to feel the texture. And then I feel silly. But I keep doing it. And I'm fascinated by other people's skin. Sometimes it's smooth, but it has a texture. Or it's completely soft, almost velvety. Sometimes it's sticky or slightly moist or rough and dry. It's not always pleasant to touch. And each touch is accompanied by a scent-- also not always pleasant.

I think, probably, no one really thinks about this. Touch is something they've had all their lives. They aren't aware that it can be otherwise. The things that fascinate and distract and alternately repel and attract me are all things they've experienced always and are completely unremarkable to them.

So I understand Therapist's need to tell me how wonderful this development is. And I agree with him. But it still seems to highlight the fact that my life, my normal, was not as it should have been. And I missed out. It's hard not to feel resentful. And when I'm not feeling resentful, I'm finding my brain wondering how I can possibly find ways to touch people and process the feel of their skin against mine. Yeah. It's weird. I'm creepy.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The past few days have been dedicated to introspection. I do not like what I am becoming. Therefore, I need to stop and change directions. And when everything is stripped away-- all the obvious reasons why I should feel a bit of misery and aggravation about things that have happened to me in the past few years-- I am left with this thought: Those things do not matter.

There are other things that do matter, though. And those are the things I need every day.

I need to:
1. Encounter smiles from other people.
2. Hold someone's hand, however briefly.
3. Be touched by someone who loved me and whom I love in return.
4. Sit on the grass. Or lie on it. Or roll down a grassy hill.
5. Look at the sky. Count the clouds. See how many shades of blue I can find.
6. Listen to the birds. Be grateful they're the first sounds I hear when I wake in the morning.
7. Breathe.
8. Enjoy the flowers. Smell them. Be happy I have yellow tulips and lilacs in my yard.
9. Talk to someone who gets me.
10. Be silly.
11. Organize my space.
12. Be hugged. More than once. For longer than 10 seconds.
13. Sing.
14. Dance.
15. Turn in circles so fast I get dizzy.
16. Refuse to worry about money or my father-in-law or what will happen tomorrow for at least one hour.
17. Laugh.
18. Love people.
19. Discover something new.
20. Be loved.

Okay. I'm going outside to find some grass.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I suppose it would be unusual for me to NOT have an identity crisis.

Two years ago I knew who I was. I knew what I did. And I figured, even if I couldn't predict it, life would be good for me.

I was a musician. I taught music professionally at the university and privately in my studio. I performed regularly. I consulted and referred. I judged festivals and contests.

I was a tax preparer and financial consultant. I had lots of clients. I understood the ins and outs of tax law and investing and being audited by the IRS. I went to seminars and did continuing education.

I was a webpage analyst. I browsed assigned sites and collected information about what types of things were found there, judged the quality of the page layout and content, and remarked if spam, adware, viruses, or other uglies were lurking.

I was a transcriptionist. I listened to lectures, court cases, insurance investigations, sales pitches, and sermons. And I typed everything that was said. I was quick, efficient, and accurate. I transcribed accented English from different places within the U.S. and from different countries.

I was a mom. I had raised three children to adulthood. I had supported them as they went through accidents, sickness, surgeries, bullying, and unfortunate drug side-effects. I tried to teach them to think critically. I taught them the things I knew about God and love and life. Then I told them to make their own decisions and find out what they believed. I taught them to love flowers and stories and music and bugs and birds. I told them they should always eat beautiful food with lots of colors and that cookies and chocolate were very important.

I loved people. Even when they made me really aggravated, I still tried to love them. Even when I felt abandoned or misunderstood or forgotten, I couldn't stop loving them. Love felt easier than self-pity or resentment. Love felt like who I was.

I planted things. Never from seeds, because the seedlings would get all spindly and break before I could transplant them. I just went to the greenhouse and bought big plants. I bought tomatoes and basil and rosemary and oregano and thyme. I bought as many flowers as I could fit in-between the herbs and tomatoes. And I watered them. And we ate the things that grew that were edible.

I was a runner. I ran because it made me happy. In the spring I saw butterflies and tiny wildflowers blooming close to the ground. As the days passed, I ran through vividly blue flax flowers and prairie grass. I hopped over beetles and stinkbugs and wolf spiders. Grasshoppers hopped over me. And above it all, the sky stretched. Sometimes clouds floated across the expanse. Sometimes storms brewed on the horizons. Always, there was a cool breeze

And now?

What am I now?

Who am I now?

I am no longer a musician. More than a month has passed since I played anything I could not sightread. There is no compulsion to practice out all the imperfections of a new piece. I don't want to teach. I don't want to learn.

I prepared taxes this year. I advised tax clients. I did it because I had committed to do so, not because I wanted to. I still have not filed my own taxes.

I was informed when I moved that there was no webpage work available to me in my new location.

I still transcribe. I don't love it. I don't want to. It pays bills.

I'm still a mom. But my children are grown. They no longer care what I love or teach or believe. As they were taught to do, they have learned to be independent, critical thinkers who take care of themselves. They love me. They now have their own lives.

I still love people. My capacity to feel a return of that love is gone.

I haven't planted things for more than a year. I have the opportunity to do so now. I don't know if I will. I don't know if I can.

I run sometimes. Not as often as I did, nor as often as I should. I'm in a good place, a lovely place. There is no excuse for not running. But sometimes I just don't.

I am baffled. I did not know I could be reduced to this.

A long time ago, a friend, when faced with something he did not want, said to me, "This is what happens."

Perhaps he was right.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I would like to say that I've not been blogging because I've been too busy with taxes and all that, but I would be lying. The truth is, I've had time. I've had time to finish taxes, to unpack boxes, to work and go running and write blog posts. But I don't.

I procrastinated some of my tax clients. I don't know why. Those who had all their information to me on time were filed. Those who didn't were extended. My own taxes were extended. That's stupid. I don't know why I did that. Now I'll owe taxes plus interest.

I'm still living with packed boxes. I try to unpack, but when I look at the cupboards in the kitchen to figure out where everything belongs, I become overwhelmed. Sometimes I put something on a shelf. Sometimes I just walk away. When Darrin tries to help me, I get upset.

I want to go running. Sometimes I do. Mostly I don't. The neighborhood is lovely. I like running here. But going running requires me to get dressed and leave my house. That's hard for me.

I pull up my online work. I look at it. I type a few things. Then I sit and stare into space. There's nothing on my mind. My supervisor contacted me to ask if I was ill. I told her I was.

I think about writing a blog post. Then I realize I have nothing to say.

This is depression. I'm depressed. There has been too much stress in my life for too long with no breaks. Which causes depression. Most days I get up early, go to my new office, sit with my computer and do nothing. For hours. I feel completely immobile. I'm sort of amazed I was able to finish the tax clients I did.

I don't sound depressed when I talk with people. I don't really know what depressed sounds like.

I don't think I look depressed. I smile a lot.

Some nights I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, aware I'm not sleeping, but too listless to think about why or what to do about it. So I just lie there.

I've thought about talking about this with Therapist or with people close to me. But I don't. Because I think I'm afraid. I'm afraid of not being the person who's happy. I'm afraid of disappointing someone who needs me. I'm afraid people will leave me because I'm not fun or interesting. I'm afraid of asking for help and being told there's no help for me.

Therapist would help me. I know that. I just don't know what to say if I talk with him. And he'll tell me being depressed, given the things that have transpired in my recent life, is not only understandable, but probably unavoidable. But I don't want it to be understandable. I want it to be gone. Also, I haven't done the assignment he gave me last time. And, quite honestly, I'm really tired of being in therapy. Really, really tired.

But I went for a run today in the rain and the wind. It was cold. Some of my neighbors have yards full of tulips and lilacs. And I'm starting a new book. And I put a bookcase in my living room tonight. It's empty, but I brought it in from the garage.

So maybe I'm not horribly depressed. Just sort of.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I have been tired. There is no surprise in this. But the surprise, to me, comes when I understand how being tired interferes with my ability to have healthy boundaries with people. This isn't usually an issue for me. I've been guilty of having boundaries which keep people out, but it's rare for me to lower those to the point that I allow people to use me. It's happened a couple of times in the past few months, though.

Case in point: Father-in-law came home from the hospital on Monday. His surgery was very long (about 8 hours), but they were able to save his leg. He's tired and in pain. But he's not an invalid. I forgot that in the midst of packing and moving and unpacking and losing things and trying to work and live life. So I went to check on him Tuesday morning. He asked me to help with his pain medication, which I did. That was silly. He's perfectly capable of getting his own medications, and he needs to do that. Then he asked if I would help with the blankets on his bed, which I did. Also silly because he's supposed to do as much for himself as possible. Then he asked me to empty the bottle of urine on his dresser, rinse the bottle, and return it. I balked for a moment. Then, wanting to get out of there and back to work, I did it.

About an hour later, I heard him in his room moving things around, unpacking, etc. And it dawned on me that he DID NOT NEED ME TO HELP WITH THAT LAST TASK! In fact, he was perfectly capable of using the toilet. And I got angry.

I'm still a little angry. But I also understand that this happened because I was too tired to say, "Nope. That's your job, not mine." The result: I haven't been back down to see my FIL since Monday. Yesterday at dinner he asked if I was upset with him. I'm not able to have that conversation with him yet without throwing something at him, so instead, I made a list of everything I've had to do for the past two weeks (including transporting him to and from the hospital), and everything I have to do in the next few days. And I mentioned that I'm very behind at work (note: I'm writing this and not working now, so that's not really valid). Then I mentioned that the stress of this was causing me some problems.

And Darrin backed me up 100%. He's a little angry about the pee bottle incident, too.

I don't mind helping. I don't mind giving companionship. I DO mind being taken advantage of when I'm too tired to realize it's happening. And I don't need people in my life who will do that. This is the conversation I need to have with FIL. I am not his nurse.

A physical therapist came by yesterday. FIL told him he doesn't need physical therapy. He needs someone to help him move furniture and boxes and unpack. Physical Therapist said that's not his job. I need to take a page from Physical Therapist's book.

So today I have been doing work to regain emotional stamina. I've done some relaxation exercises. I was going to run, but the wind is daunting. I have a feeling I'll get back and be exhausted which is not the point of running. I've read a bit. I've stayed away from work and will tackle that later today. And I'm trying to think of all the ways my being emotionally healthy is good for everyone I love. And it is. I know this.

My new home is lovely. And it has zero storage and cupboard space. This is a problem that is solvable. My FIL is not. He has to solve his own problems. And if he thinks we're upset at him, well, he's not wrong. In a few days, I'll be strong enough to talk with him about it.

We have lovely neighbors. Three have stopped by to introduce themselves. One couple brought us cookies. A widow who lives across the street brought us a brightly flowering plant. She has a lovely yard and identified some of my trees for me. I have a weeping cherry. I think everyone should have one of these in their yard. I'm deeply in love with it. And a man from down the street who is clearly autistic brought me his business card on Tuesday and told me that we're supposed to put our trash out that night or very early the next morning. Which he repeated four times. It is, apparently, very important to him that we don't miss trash day. I sort of love him.

So things are not horrible. And I'm working on me. And I have a weeping cherry tree with gorgeous blossoms. Everyone should have one.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

There is a weird, "Who could possibly care?" and also "Why would I want them to?" thing that happens when I can't manage PTSD. It permeates every aspect of who I am until I lose myself. There is no trace of self-pity. It feels logical and calming. I stop reaching out to people. I become lovely, and pleasant, and two-dimensional. Grocery store clerks and strangers fall in love with me. I don't know why that's important to me. Maybe it affirms that I'm still living and breathing and real.

Years ago, this was a state of being. No one really cared beyond knowing I was "fine." Fine was what and who I was. I'm fine, thank you. I had lots of friends. We laughed often. We enjoyed each other's company. I said we should have lunch soon. Then I went home, exhausted, and tried to regroup. It's hard work not being me.

But over the past decade I've been working on believing people do care. They care. Not everyone, but some. And those that care want good things for me. They're sad, even if only momentarily, when unfortunate things happen to me. I try to think, "There are people who care about me," when PTSD becomes unmanageable, and, "I need to want them to care."

I think I've gotten close to believing in the caring. Last week I confided to a friend that I really, really wanted someone to be sad about the assault and molestation that happened to eight-year-old me. And I was confused as to why I wanted that. I'm still confused. He suggested that if someone feels sad or angry or upset about what happened to me, it means they love me. They care.

I went home and thought about that. There's so much that confuses me about the whole incident. Not the incident, itself, but my feelings and reactions to it. I honestly cannot figure out what I'm feeling. I don't know how to feel. Part of wanting someone else to feel something about it is so I will have an idea of what I, myself, feel. Maybe. That sounds silly. See? I'm very confused.

But today I'm lost in the PTSD crap. I haven't talked to anyone yet because I can't seem to crawl out of the hole where "Who could possibly care?" rings in my ears, only to be followed up with, "Why would I want them to?" The answers come quickly. The first: No One. No One, Sam. They have their own stuff. They don't need or want yours. No One. And then the second: You don't. You don't want them to. That means they'll ask questions and you'll want to answer. If you talk about it it's real. If you don't, it will go away. No One cares and that's exactly how things are supposed to be. Just make everything go away. Be fine. Fine is good.

But for 10 years I've been working on not hearing those answers. They're very loud today, but there's a second, quiet voice, insistently telling me, "You know better, Sam."

Do I?

Maybe. I'm pretty tired. It takes effort to hear that dissenter. It's easier to listen to the voice that has controlled me for many years, to heed the words, disappear inside myself...

Probably right now is not the best time to listen to either. I'm too confused.

In moments like these, my brain imagines reactions from people who supposedly care. I hear them say, "I've told you I care. Why don't you believe me?" or "We've been through this so many times. How long will it take?" or "I don't have time for this, Sam. Pull yourself together."

So I do. I pull myself together. And I don't give anyone opportunity to say the hurtful things I imagine. Because it would hurt. A lot.

"I've told you I love you. Why don't you believe me?" I want to. I want to so much. I'm trying. Sometimes I try until I'm exhausted with the effort. And then I feel terrible because you don't deserve my doubt. And I don't deserve your love.

"We've been through this so many times. How long will it take?" I don't know. Honestly, I thought, when I began therapy, I'd be all over this in about three months, maximum. I was wrong. I'm wrong about most things. You're right. We've been through this repeatedly. It's a lot to ask of you. It's a lot to ask of me. For a long time I kept asking people to stay. I don't ask that anymore. I don't know how long it will take. No one deserves that kind of negative repetition and pointless uncertainty. And it is pointless. I don't know if this will ever stop happening.

"I don't have time for this, Sam. Pull yourself together." What you don't know is, this is me, all pulled together. I'm not sure anyone except Darrin has seen me completely unhinged. Even my father, when I told him I needed to be taken to the hospital's psyche ward, was presented with a completely calm person. So if I seem unsettled, or confused, or at odds with something, that's probably a very toned down version of what is really happening to me. And I know you don't have time. I don't either. But you also need to know I'd never take time you're unwilling to give or that you would give begrudgingly. I don't do that. I never would. You don't deserve that.

Oops. Time for me to go. For the next little while I need to be competent and confident. Fortunately, I'm not going to be with anyone I'm trying to fall in love with. That helps.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I don't believe I'm feeling self-pity. I'm just exhausted. And when I'm tired, PTSD is ugly. That's all.

Sometimes I don't go to bed because Darrin is already there. It's not that I don't want to be with him. It's that he snores. Loudly. Sometimes the snores get incorporated into my dreams which then turn into nightmares. Sometimes I can't even dream at all because the noise keeps me awake. Last night I went to the couch. But it was Friday night and people come and go most of the night. My sliding door borders the parking lot. So there was a lot of noise, talking, laughing, car lights... Around 3:00 a.m. I tried again to sleep in my bed. I had success after about an hour, but woke around 7:00 because of daylight.

Darrin has been sick. Cold medicine makes him sleep more heavily and snore more loudly. But I think a sick person probably needs more sleep than I do, so that's okay.

But it doesn't help me navigate what's happening right now. I've been trying to juggle work, which has become a little insane, and home buying, and very, very ill father-in-law on little sleep. It's hard. Also, I've been making less than wise decisions in all my relationships. That's stressful.

And the worst part of it is, I keep shutting down. I'll be feeling fine, but then, suddenly, my brain stops processing anything. Someone is talking to me, but I can't understand the words. I'm working, but I can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm talking on the phone or chatting online, but I've lost the words that need to be spoken or sent. I feel like someone just dropped a wall between me and whomever I'm with or whatever I'm doing. I become nonfunctional.

That's stressful, too.

So I'm here. Tonight all the erroneous thinking began. That's all I have to say about that. It takes all my energy to negate the incorrect thoughts and emotions that don't make sense. Talking about it is not going to help tonight. I'm too tired.

So I'm going to go to bed. I'll read and wish for the snoring to cease. It won't. I'll try to sleep, get frustrated, and read again. I've thought about going to my car and sleeping there. I might try that tonight. We'll see.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Never go to the bathroom alone, Part 4

I've put off writing about this because it causes all sorts of unwelcome and overwhelming emotions. Therapist assigned me to write down all emotions as they came. I didn't do it. I think it's because I'm still startled when the emotions come. And they're exhausting. I don't know. I just didn't want a written reminder, I think, of what's happening to me right now-- at least, not one like that.

I think I have a better picture of what happened to me. I've written much of this already, but here it is, pieced together, with my extrapolation of what probably happened in the spaces I don't remember clearly.

I was followed to the bathroom by a mentally disabled man. I didn't know why he was behind me. I tried to explain to him that the bathroom I was going to was not the one he needed. He grabbed me and began whispering, "I just want to see. I want to touch you. I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to see..." As he repeatedly whispered the phrases, he began taking off my clothing. I was shocked, angry, and terrified. I yelled at him to stop and tried to get my clothes back from him. He held me in place. I fought back and screamed. I hit and kicked whatever I could. I scratched and twisted, trying to get away. I saw his hand in front of me and bit it hard. I remember the taste of his skin and blood in my mouth. I heard him yell and he hit me, then threw me against the cinder block wall. 

My next memory is of him bending over me repeating the same words over and over. They don't make sense. I can't move for a few moments. Then I see my clothes nearby. At some point I become dressed and he is no longer restraining me. I run to the door and open it. I hear him behind me saying, "Don't tell your dad. Don't tell your dad." My brain grabs that phrase. I turn to look at him with all the defiance and anger that fills my small body, loudly and clearly saying, "I WILL tell my dad. I'm telling him right now!" And then I run. He doesn't follow me.

I believe I lost consciousness when I hit the wall. I think that's why I couldn't move, why the memory at that point is muddled and confusing, why I stopped fighting for a moment. I've run from the words he said because, in the context of what I had allowed myself to remember for most of my life, they didn't make sense. And they were very upsetting. While sitting with Tolkien Boy, I was able to hear them and place them where they belonged.

After hitting the wall, my next memory is of him bending over me. He's saying, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't mean to hurt you. Please be okay." The repetition continues while my clothing is replaced. I don't know for sure, but I believe he helped me dress.

Here is what I believe about this:
1. I believe I may have been the first in a string of children he molested to fight back. Or perhaps I fought the hardest. I think I was the first to really hurt him. I think he was surprised.
2. I believe that when he hit me in the head, it was neither planned nor malicious. I think he realized that I wasn't going to stop biting, scratching, and screaming, and he was desperate to make me stop resisting.
3. I believe the same is true when he threw me against the wall. At that point, I think he was done trying to "see" and "touch" and just wanted out. I don't believe he meant to throw me as hard as he did. I'm guessing I blacked out and lay very still, which, given his mental maturity of about 14 years old, let him know he was going to be in big trouble if he had hurt me badly.
4. I believe he was a little bit shocked at how the events unfolded, which was why he allowed me to leave. I also think his hand was hurting him and he didn't want to get bitten again.
5. His hand was bleeding still when I left the bathroom. I think that's probably the last thing I saw, which is why it kept popping up in my nightmares and flashbacks.

So now I'm in the yucky part.

I was assaulted. I was molested. I was eight. It was too much for me to think about, let alone talk about or process. My parents didn't know what to do. I didn't get the help I needed. So I blocked it and put it away so that I could live.

But that can't happen forever.

Yesterday I was at the ER with my father-in-law. On the waiting room television there was a show about an eight-year-old who was assaulted by a man who is still at large. She is currently in her late 30s. Her attack was much more savage than the one I experienced. The man had no problem beating her up and, given the severity of her injuries, it's likely he expected she would die. That is not the case with my experience.

In 2012 a woman was gang raped on a bus in Delhi. She died of her injuries. One of her attackers described what was done to her, then said, "A girl is far more responsible for a rape than a boy," then said she should not have fought back. He's wrong. And he's a murderer. I don't believe my attacker wanted to murder me. I don't think he wanted to punish me. I think, in his sick, twisted mind, he believed it was okay to experiment with me. I think he expected me to be frightened and compliant, not angry and relentlessly resistant.

I'm not excusing the actions of my attacker. I'm simply saying, the intent was different from the above examples.

That doesn't help me right now, though. I don't now how to make sense of all the emotions. The intensity exhausts me. I feel the rage and the fear and the determination to hurt the person who was hurting me. I feel the confusion and the loneliness and the overwhelming impulse to shut it all down and forget it. Because it's too much for an eight-year-old to understand.

I'm not eight anymore.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I'm supposed to write more about my therapy stuff tonight, but I don't want to.

Tonight I want to be on a warm beach, listening to the ocean.

Tonight I want to breathe in pine forests and wildflowers.

Tonight I want to smell cinnamon and vanilla.

Tonight I want to listen to poetry.

Tonight I want a long walk with only the stars for company.

Tonight I want so sing and dance and go skinny dipping.

Tonight I want to taste strawberries, sweet and wild.

Tonight I want to hold a hand.

Yes, I just wrote that.

I think I'm ready to work on the other thing.

My sense of touch has reawakened.

This is distracting, overwhelming, and frightening.

But tonight it is also interesting.

That's new.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Never go to the bathroom alone, Part 3

During his interview, my father discussed with me the extent of mental and physical disability suffered by the person who molested me. Brent and his brother, as their mother explained to my father, had a chromosomal defect which caused their bodies and brains to grow to puberty, then to regress. The men were in their late 30s, but at this point, their mother believed them to be mentally and emotionally about seven years old.

Given what I know now, I'd place them at 12 to 15. I base that on some memories I've had recently. I believe their mother seriously underestimated their mental acuity and maturity. It was probably easier for her to excuse the delinquent and violent behaviors if she attributed them to a little boy who didn't understand he was causing harm.

Physically, Brent was no taller than 5'3" and weighed between 110 and 125 pounds. Basically, he was about as big as I am now. But to an eight-year-old who weighed about 40 pounds, he would have been very large.

It was important for me to have this context as I remembered.

When I met with Therapist, we discussed the things I had learned from my parents. I told him I was still afraid of remembering more. I told him when I tried to remember, I became overwhelmed by fear. To me, this was far more frightening that being raped by my cousin when I was eleven. Therapist said that was probably because I'd spent the last decade learning how to manage the emotions of being raped. This event was new, when it came to learning about it and managing whatever I might feel about it.

He gave me my second assignment: I was allowed to try to remember as much as I felt comfortable remembering. I was not allowed to do it alone. I needed someone to be with me. Therapist warned me that I would need someone to help me feel grounded and to bring me back if I got caught in the flashbacks. He suggested I ask Tolkien Boy. Darrin was discussed, but Therapist felt I needed someone I could work with for a short period and then leave behind when I went home. Because I would associate those memories with the person who was with me, I needed it to be someone I do not live with. That would allow me breathing room while I processed.

I don't like asking people to help me, but I did it anyway. And Tolkien Boy agreed to help me because he's amazing that way.

So we met the first time. I won't lie. It was pretty much horrible. But during that time, I was able to finally see that my clothing was different from what I had been imagining. And I was able to hear the words that were whispered while I was being molested. And I figured out where the blood came from. It wasn't mine. Nor was it my hand I was seeing. It was Brent's, because I bit him. And scratched and hit and kicked. I was very, very angry at him when he tried to take off my clothes.

I got tired before I could see everything. I needed to stop. Probably that was a bad idea because it left me in limbo, which meant the next few days were pretty horrible. Adam and Darrin woke me several times during the the following nights because I was having terrors. And screaming. Or just yelling. That's not a fun thing to hear.

But I started. That's something.

There was a second, unrelated assignment, but I'm too tired to write about it right now.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Never go to the bathroom alone, Part 2

I interviewed my mother over the phone first. She wasn't present when the incident happened. On top of that, she was experiencing a difficult pregnancy. I don't really remember seeing her much during this year of my life. She was often sick, and when she wasn't, she was on bed rest. Also, I didn't know what I would hear from her. She has dementia. What that means is she has no healthy emotional boundaries. It is common for her to hijack whatever topic is raised and make it all about her. There's a bit of narcissism in her personality that has been exacerbated by the dementia. I was pretty sure I'd find nothing of importance in her interview, but Therapist had assigned it, so I did it.

And it wasn't horrible, actually. She was more lucid than I've seen her for years. And she was completely honest. There was no twisting to make it all about her, no assumed or constructed impossible details, no lamenting about what a horrible mother she had been. She simply said, "Sam, I wasn't there. I don't really know anything that happened. I was only personally involved afterward, when we went to see the bishop about it."

I told her I knew that, I just wanted to hear what she remembered. She told me my father related the incident to her. She said she thought he had asked me, on the way home, what had happened, and I had said that Brent (because apparently, that was my attacker's name) had followed me to the bathroom and lifted up my skirt. She said they had spoken with his parents and the bishop, and she and my father had been pressured to let the parents speak with their son and handle any necessary discipline.

My mom said she never felt it was enough but, based on my account, the encounter had been scary, but I hadn't been physically harmed, so she was unsure if they would be able to report it and prosecute the man. He was mentally disabled, after all, she was told.

Then she asked me what was going on; why was I talking about this now? I briefly let her know that things had been triggered, that much more happened in that bathroom than peeking under my skirt, and that I was doing a therapy assignment. She was quiet for a moment. Then she said, "Sam, I'm so sorry. I wish we had done more. We didn't know what to do." She said, "I wish I had held you when  you came home. I would have told you you were loved and safe. I wish I had done that. I'm sorry."

Five years ago, those words would have made me angry. I would have felt resentment that she had assumed I would want her to touch me. I wouldn't have responded at all.

This time, I was grateful. I'm not stupid. I know, given where our relationship was at that time in my life, she probably didn't have the emotional stamina to offer love to me. But somehow, hearing her say this now, even knowing full well that it probably stems from her dementia, was important. I needed to know that she felt something about what had happened to me. I needed to know of her need to love and protect me, even if it was fabricated. And so I told her, "Thank you for saying that, Mom. It helps. It really does."

I've come a very, very long way.

My father called me about an hour later. He corroborated most of the story I've believed my whole life. He told me when I returned from the bathroom, I was visibly upset and seemed confused, incoherent. When he understood what had happened, he asked me to sit on a chair near a family friend while he got our coats. They were on the other side of the gym. He was able to see me, and I him, the entire time we were separated, and retrieving the coats took a matter of seconds.

I told my dad that wasn't what I remembered. I remembered being left for a long time. Later, I said, he had told me he found Brent and threatened him with violence if he ever harmed little girls again (this behavior, we found out later, was chronic-- I was not the first victim). My dad said, no. We left and went home immediately. It was later, perhaps a week or two, before he spoke with Brent.

He mentioned the car ride home. And I remembered. I remembered it was dark, and I was afraid. I remembered him asking me if Brent had hurt me. I remembered saying no. He just lifted up my skirt. I think that's what I wanted the story to be. I think it was too hard to talk about what really happened. I think there was a part of me that wondered if I was in trouble or if I'd done something wrong. Mostly, I was just too scared and confused to talk about it.

My dad told me that he wished they had prosecuted, or at the very least, made a police report. I'm not sure I could have endured that. Within a day, my subconscious was hard at work making me forget, redrawing my clothing, shutting down the memory.

My father told me that Brent and his brother were often in trouble. At one time, they were throwing rocks through car windshields and breaking them. The sheriff took them to the tiny, local jail, and locked them in overnight. In the morning, he told them they could go home if they promised not to break anymore windows. The men promised and were released. No more windows were broken.

My dad said that, as no repercussions seemed to be forthcoming for the bathroom assault on his daughter, he felt he needed to make yet another impression on Brent to deter him from harming any other little girls. He spoke with Brent a few days later and showed Brent his pocket knife. Brent admired the knife a great deal. My dad said, "I want you to remember this knife. I keep it with me all the time. And if I ever hear of you following another little girl into the bathroom for any reason, I'll use that knife to cut off your penis."

I have no idea if the threat was effective or not. After all, I was working very hard to remember that nothing ever happened. But none of the girls my age ever went to the bathroom alone. It was an odd circumstance that left me alone the night I was assaulted. For whatever reason, I had been allowed to go with my father to the basketball game. It was late, probably 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. It was a school night. No other children were there-- at least, none that I knew. I don't remember seeing any other school-age children. If there had been any there, I would have been playing with them rather than watching the game.

My dad asked me if I was going to be okay, and expressed his dismay and distress that I was still suffering after so many years. I reassured him that the suffering had just begun and told him not to worry. Therapist and I would work through it and I would be fine. He told me he loved me. I think I've always known that.

Never go to the bathroom alone, Part 1

And now I know, I think. But I still don't know how to talk about it.

Retelling what happened, what I can piece together from flashbacks and real memories, feels glib, almost false. I don't know why that bothers me.

What I began with:

I was eight. I went to young men's basketball game with my father who was the YM president and, I think, also helped coach the team. I watched for awhile. I remember the game, the sounds, how the gym smelled. I had to use the bathroom. Someone followed me. I turned to see who. It was a man who was mentally disabled. He was odd looking. My mother had said he had a grown-up body but a little boy mind. I was at the door to the women's restroom. I thought he must have made a mistake and began giving him directions to the men's restroom. 

He grabbed me and pulled me into the restroom. Then I got scared. I pushed him away; told him to stop. I was wearing a white cotton bodysuit and a twirly, floral skirt. The bodysuit had a front zipper. He unzipped it. I pulled it back up, telling him, again to stop. He lifted up the skirt. I pushed and hit and kicked and finally broke away from him. I ran to the door. As I reached it, he said, "Don't tell your dad. Don't you tell your dad!" I turned, enraged and defiant, and said, "I AM telling him. I'm telling him right now!" And then I ran. 

When I reached my dad, I was less angry and much more frightened. I didn't know how to say what had happened. I told him I had been followed into the bathroom. I told him the man had tried to take off my clothes. My dad asked if I was okay. I said yes. He picked me up and set me on a chair. Then he left.

That is all I remembered.

There are all sorts of feelings connected with this. Most present has been aggravation at my father that he abandoned me when I wished to be held and made safe. Everything else has seemed less important.

Then, shortly after moving to Utah, I got triggered. Two mentally disabled men in their late 30s or early 40s sat in the pew in front of me one Sunday at church. Within 15 minutes, I could barely sit still. I was stressed to the point of being nauseated. Darrin asked if I needed to leave. I was somehow able to make it through the meeting, but when I got home I felt embarrassed and silly. I was not in danger. The men were completely unaware of me. I wasn't threatened in any way. Still, I was overwhelmed by fear.

Then the flashbacks began. And the nightmares. I became increasingly nervous and stressed. PTSD symptoms were rampant. I began to disconnect, emotionally, from everyone close to me. Touch became unbearable. So I contacted Therapist and asked to see him.

As the flashbacks and nightmares continued, I began to realize that the narrative I had always believed was flawed. There were things that could not be true. There were gaps and omissions. I didn't know what had truly happened, and not knowing was causing me terrible distress.

So I talked with Therapist and told him the following:
1. I have always been afraid of mentally disabled men. It's embarrassing and something I have hidden. I felt there was some bias or discrimination I felt toward them. I didn't want anyone to know.

2. The flashbacks were confusing. There was one in particular causing fear and confusion. I was standing near my father after the incident occurred. I looked down at my hand and saw blood on it. I knew it was not my blood. This same scene was replaying in my nightmares.

3. Whispering, especially from a male voice, terrifies me. If you want to wake me when I'm sleeping, whisper within earshot of me. I'll wake immediately. And I'll want to punch you in the face. Darrin is a chronic whisperer. He does it when he reads "silently." After about 30 seconds, I seriously hate him and want him dead. I realized, after the flashbacks began, that there was whispering when I was attacked, but I could not understand the words being said in the flashbacks.

4. The outfit I was wearing was impossible. It was made for me for a dance recital when I was five or six. The bathroom incident occurred 2-3 years later. The outfit would have been much too small. I could not have been wearing it.

Therapist said it was clear that I was preparing to find out what really happened, and my body was sending me messages to help with that process. However, I am not in a secure place right now. Many other external issues are also causing me distress. He asked me to wait until my circumstances were more stable. I said I would try. My body had other ideas.

Within three days I was no longer able to keep food down and I didn't want to eat at all. Sleep wasn't happening. I started losing hair, which always happens when I'm very stressed. I called Therapist and asked to see him. I told him waiting was not an option.

So we met a couple of days later, and I was given an assignment: Talk to my parents and find out as much information as possible from them about the incident.

So I did.

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.