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Monday, January 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And then I came home. 

Except it doesn't feel like home. 

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

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

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

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

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

I don't want to go there again. 

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

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

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

For now, though, I'm going to sleep. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Not Sleepy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Friday, January 6, 2017

2017

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

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

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

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

And honest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Starting Over

Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dear everyone who has ever been in my life,

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

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

So anything I write this morning is suspect.

This is a confession.

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

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

I had friends in high school.

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

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

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

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

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

I don't think I expected that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me.

That's all.

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I think I understand now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except I think I finally do understand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A week away

I spent the week in Laramie. That was weird.

I didn't contact old friends or try to meet up with people. I don't know why. Maybe I'm overwhelmed.

I have a friend who tracked me down anyway. Laramie is a small town. She insisted we have lunch, so yesterday we did. And I'm glad we did. I love her. But I think I'm overwhelmed. Possibly other things besides overwhelmed, too.

I've never really had a "Mom". Someone who noticed when I wasn't doing well physically or emotionally. My mother had other children. If I was sick, I had to tell her. When my children were sick, I knew before they did. If I was sad, I became invisible. When my children were sad, we went for a drive together. If I was nervous, afraid, or angry, I went for a run or a long walk alone. When my children were nervous, afraid, or angry, we talked about why and discussed ways to cope. Sometimes they went for runs or long walks, but usually not alone. If they were alone, it was because they felt it would be the healthiest way for them to sort through whatever was consuming them.

Since I've become an adult, I've had friends who have sometimes noticed when I was not at my best and reached out to me. I've not always known how to respond to them. Often their gestures were met with suspicion or panic.When you don't really have a Mom, you're not taught that sometimes people reach out, or notice when you're sad or lonely, or just try to help when they think you could use a hand. Sometimes they just do it because they love you. When you're not taught this, the gestures is foreign, intrusive, and scary.

After years of practice, I'm still not good at seeing things for what they are. I question motives and affection. I still don't always respond well. But I also kind of want people to notice and reach out when, for some reason, I'm feeling less than happy. It's new for me to wish for that and something that has developed in the past five years. Prior to that, I did everything in my power not to allow people to know if I wasn't doing well. It was what I had learned was proper. People don't really care. People don't really want to know. People don't really want to help.

So today, I'm in the middle. Or, perhaps more accurately, I'm more confused than ever. Spending a week with my mother was not good for me. She has a way of asking about my life, then twisting it to make it all about her. I don't respond well to that. Also, all the confusion of what makes authentic interpersonal relationships has risen to the foreground. She's the person who raised me, after all. She still has sway even when my boundaries are secure.

I believe I might be feeling depressed. There's certainly a lot in my life that would bring on those feelings right now.
1. I'm living with three other adults in a two-bedroom apartment.
2. I'm living with my father-in-law who does not always respect my boundaries.
3. I've been the sole source of income for our family for the past three months. This is not strictly true. My father-in-law offers constantly to help financially. And he lives with us. I don't know why it's beyond my ability to accept help from him.
3. I don't have a "place" anymore. No prairie or mountains to go running. No room of my own. No place. Always, people.
4. I am not doing well with the person who has been elected to lead our country, for obvious reasons.
5. There is too much change in too little time for me to process it successfully.

Okay. That's valid. I might be depressed.

But what has happened since I moved, is that all the paranoias that I used to ignore are consuming me. When someone I love calls me on the phone, my first thought is, "Oh, I'm so glad they called. I REALLY need to talk to someone." Then the paranoia says, "Um, no. They want to talk to you. Shut up and listen." So I do, unless I have a complete panic attack at which time I talk really fast, thank them for calling, and hang up without even finding out why they called.

If I'm with someone with whom I feel safe, I think, "Oh! I feel safe with him/her. I need to spend some time and let this ball of anxiety relax a bit so I can live." And then the paranoia says, "YOU might want to spend time, but he/she does not. Your person is busy. There is a life waiting for them (or a spouse or a different friend). You need to do your business and go home so you aren't bothering them." So I do. And then I practically run away so I won't be a bother.

Needless to say, the need to talk is increasing and the ball of anxiety has begun to gag me.

So, Samantha, you have a therapist...

I do. I have a therapist.

Is that all there is? Run away from the people I love and talk about it later with my therapist?

Monday, November 14, 2016

I've been doing better as the week has progressed. Until today. Now I'm back in complete panic mode. One of my students was targeted because he was gay. A threatening note was left on his car. It referenced his homosexuality, a racial slur, and Trump.

He is a music professor.

He's not even a U.S. citizen. He's a visiting artist from Brazil. A visiting artist and a music professor. What kind of threat does that pose? And when he took a photo and posted it on Facebook, trolls suggested he made it up (HE MADE IT UP?????) to get attention (seriously - he's a performer - he gets all the attention he wants - he doesn't need to pretend to be a victim), and then they hijacked the comment threads on his YouTube channel to the point that he has felt the need to shut it down. Which means no one's listening to his music tonight. Maybe I'm the only one in mourning, but it seems that listening to someone play the piano is so much better than calling names and ridiculing someone who has just been threatened because he's not white and not heterosexual.

And I would like to blame Trump. Well, in all honesty, I do blame Trump. But the truth is, he simply fanned into flames an ember that has resided in the cesspools of our society forever. So as much as I want to say to Trump, "You started it!" I can't. Because he didn't. He just took what was already existent, no matter how slimy and nasty, and ran with it. U.S. citizens provided the ammunition. He offered an opportunity for those who have lived beneath the rocks to crawl out and show their true colors, and they chose him as their leader.

Their leader. Not mine.

And so tonight I want to go find all those potentially targeted people who hold parts of my heart and hug them. I want to make sure they're safe. I want to say I can protect them even when I can't. I want this to be better.

I can't make it better.

So I am grouchy and panicky, and I picked a fight with Darrin because I feel picked-on and helpless. Because that was productive.

And now I don't know what to do. But I want to call Tolkien Boy. And Josh. And AtP. And Mr. Fob. And everyone else who has ever walked through my blog and stolen my heart (If I didn't list you, it's because I don't know if you still go by your blognym. Also, I'm guessing no one reads here anymore, so it's probably okay). Because you do not deserve to live in fear. You do not deserve to be targeted. You deserve to be safe.

I want you to be safe.

This sucks.

I'm going to go have another panic attack now.

If you see me tomorrow, will you please hug me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Usually when this happens, I wait to talk about it. I wait until the calm has come. Otherwise, I'm fairly certain the post will feel passive aggressive, at best. I am not a passive aggressive person. Those closest to me have known me to occasionally say something that is. Then they have known me to recognize it for what it is, quickly apologize, and then retreat until I'm able to act like a real human being again.

However, this time I need to talk. Should I sound whiny or self-absorbed or, yes, even passive aggressive, then so be it. I apologize in advance.

What does it feel like to have PTSD?

I've attempted to answer this question so many times, and always, I have failed miserably. This time I am answering the question while the symptoms rage and my ability to be rational is gone.

PTSD is something that lurks quietly beneath the surface during the calm times. In those moments, I feel the most like myself. I recognize my feelings and reactions. They feel logical and appropriate. But always, I am aware that I might hear or see or otherwise experience something that will awaken the PTSD symptoms. Always.

So I look for ways to circumvent that possibility. I avoid large, noisy crowds. On days when I feel particularly vulnerable, I avoid people, altogether. I don't watch movies that graphically depict violence, especially sexual violence, toward women. I don't go places where I might feel unsafe (translation: I stay home with the door locked and I don't answer my phone). On highly sensitive days, I don't touch people.

What this all means is that when the calm days are present, I spend most of my time trying to avoid things and waiting for the less than calm days. Which translates into a lot of stress. At some point, when my life will allow it, I will meet with Therapist and talk about ways to live my life again - to really live, not just await the next time I will feel the full impact of PTSD and spend each moment trying to appear normal while dealing with the mess it makes of me.

I am currently not in the calm days.

It was a small thing, really. I went to church. And two men came in and sat on the pew in front of me. They were mentally challenged/disabled/whatever the current politically correct word is.

I need to say this: I have spent my life in fear of those who are mentally disabled - especially mentally disabled men. Judge me, if you will. I am fearful of them, but I do not hate them. I recognize my fear is irrational and wrong and the each person is unique. I've even spent time with the mentally disabled, volunteering, or just visiting, in an attempt to allay my fear.

But this fear stems from a time very, very long ago. Eight-year-old Samantha was attending a men's church basketball game with her father. She needed to use the bathroom. So she skipped to the ladies room, used the facilities, and was washing up when she realized she had been followed by a man. He was watching her. She turned to him, remembering that he was mentally disabled, thinking that perhaps he had gone to the wrong bathroom by mistake, and he grabbed her.

Understand, at age 8, I was very small. I had not reached four feet in height and I weighed about 40 pounds. This was a grown man in his mid-30s. A very strong, grown man. He began roughly removing my clothing, and I was terrified. I screamed, fought, bit, scratched... it didn't matter. I remember finally getting away, grabbing my clothes, and running. I heard him say, as I reached the door, "Don't tell your dad. Don't you tell your dad." I turned my defiant, angry, scared-out-of-my-mind self to him and said firmly, "I WILL tell him. I'm telling him right now." And then I ran.

I have no idea how I dressed while running, but I arrived at my father's side, fully clothed. I stood quietly next to him. He must have noticed I was upset because he tore his attention away from the game to ask if I was okay. I don't remember what I said, but I conveyed what had just happened to me. I watched my father become angry. He picked me up, sat me on a chair more firmly, I think, than he intended, and told me not to move. Then he left.

So I sat. And my child brain told me that I must have done something terrible. And I wanted someone to hold me and tell me I would be okay. But no one did. I wanted to be told the man wouldn't touch me again. But no one did. I needed, badly, to be told that I had done nothing wrong. But no one did.

And that is the extent of my memory. My father tells me that he left because he found the man who had molested me and threatened to kill him. That doesn't really help me. My parents told me that they met with the bishop, that I came with them, that I told my story, and they discussed bringing charges against the man. No charges were brought.

And I am left with the memory of being attacked, molested, and when seeking comfort, instead being met with anger. While it was not directed at me, it is all I remember. Church bathrooms are still a place of fear for me, years later. And, while I despise myself for this, I am still afraid of mentally disabled men, as a group.

So two days ago I went to church. And two disabled men sat in front of me. And that experience has triggered PTSD symptoms that rage in my gut. A war has begun. PTSD brings to the fore all the bizarre and unnatural impulses and feelings I have toward loved ones in my life. I spend time that could be used for work and rest and normal life interactions, reminding myself that such impulses and feelings are not appropriate nor logical. I watch everything I say, to make sure I'm not expressing something strange or ugly. I don't touch people.

I completely understand that what is happening is my body and brain reminding me that something horrible happened to me a long time ago and that it's not quite healed. I completely understand that if I feel something inappropriate toward another person, this is not an authentic feeling, nor is it coming from the person who is really me. I completely understand that, while I may have impulses or thoughts that are immoral or violent, this is not what I would do if I had experienced less violence in my own life.

The feelings and impulses feel foreign and wrong. They also feel appropriate to the situation. And because I understand where they come from, I allow them. Attempting to shelve or stop them simply causes an increase in intensity and a decreased ability to manage them. But as I allow those to happen, I also completely understand that, were anyone I love to know about them, they would be tremendously uncomfortable. I also believe our relationship would be irreparably damaged. No one really wishes intimacy with someone who, voluntarily or not, periodically feels things or wishes to act in ways that are reprehensible..

That, naturally, creates conflict. And a little bit of self-loathing. And a whole lot of frustration.

And so I wait. The wait is miserable. I get cranky and sad. But someday this will ease up, and I'll be back to the calm days that are also stressful because I know, at some point, I'll be back in the PTSD war with myself again.

What do I want right now? I want the war to end. I understand that most everyone experiences unwanted feelings and impulses, but I want to have impulses and feelings that are less bizarre and frightening - ones that don't make me feel I'm a psychopath. I want to believe that, even if the people in my life know that I think or feel these things, they would understand that's not who I really am, that I'm not violent or crazy, and that they can still love me even in the moments when I'm battling PTSD. I want, someday, to be free of the vicious cycle.

What do I need? Probably more than anything, I need someone to hold my hand and tell me it's okay. Weird.
Usually when this happens, I wait to talk about it. I wait until the calm has come. Otherwise, I'm fairly certain the post will feel passive aggressive, at best. I am not a passive aggressive person. Those closest to me have known me to occasionally say something that is. Then they have known me to recognize it for what it is, quickly apologize, and then retreat until I'm able to act like a real human being again.

However, this time I need to talk. Should I sound whiny or self-absorbed or, yes, even passive aggressive, then so be it. I apologize in advance.

What does it feel like to have PTSD?

I've attempted to answer this question so many times, and always, I have failed miserably. This time I am answering the question while the symptoms rage and my ability to be rational is gone.

PTSD is something that lurks quietly beneath the surface during the calm times. In those moments, I feel the most like myself. I recognize my feelings and reactions. They feel logical and appropriate. But always, I am aware that I might hear or see or otherwise experience something that will awaken the PTSD symptoms. Always.

So I look for ways to circumvent that possibility. I avoid large, noisy crowds. On days when I feel particularly vulnerable, I avoid people, altogether. I don't watch movies that graphically depict violence, especially sexual violence, toward women. I don't go places where I might feel unsafe (translation: I stay home with the door locked and I don't answer my phone). On highly sensitive days, I don't touch people.

What this all means is that when the calm days are present, I spend most of my time trying to avoid things and waiting for the less than calm days. Which translates into a lot of stress. At some point, when my life will allow it, I will meet with Therapist and talk about ways to live my life again - to really live, not just await the next time I will feel the full impact of PTSD and spend each moment trying to appear normal while dealing with the mess it makes of me.

I am currently not in the calm days.

It was a small thing, really. I went to church. And two men came in and sat on the pew in front of me. They were mentally challenged/disabled/whatever the current politically correct word is.

I need to say this: I have spent my life in fear of those who are mentally disabled - especially mentally disabled men. Judge me, if you will. I am fearful of them, but I do not hate them. I recognize my fear is irrational and wrong and the each person is unique. I've even spent time with the mentally disabled, volunteering, or just visiting, in an attempt to allay my fear.

But this fear stems from a time very, very long ago. Eight-year-old Samantha was attending a men's church basketball game with her father. She needed to use the bathroom. So she skipped to the ladies room, used the facilities, and was washing up when she realized she had been followed by a man. He was watching her. She turned to him, remembering that he was mentally disabled, thinking that perhaps he had gone to the wrong bathroom by mistake, and he grabbed her.

Understand, at age 8, I was very small. I had not reached four feet in height and I weighed about 40 pounds. This was a grown man in his mid-30s. A very strong, grown man. He began roughly removing my clothing, and I was terrified. I screamed, fought, bit, scratched... it didn't matter. I remember finally getting away, grabbing my clothes, and running. I heard him say, as I reached the door, "Don't tell your dad. Don't you tell your dad." I turned my defiant, angry, scared-out-of-my-mind self to him and said firmly, "I WILL tell him. I'm telling him right now." And then I ran.

I have no idea how I dressed while running, but I arrived at my father's side, fully clothed. I stood quietly next to him. He must have noticed I was upset because he tore his attention away from the game to ask if I was okay. I don't remember what I said, but I conveyed what had just happened to me. I watched my father become angry. He picked me up, sat me on a chair more firmly, I think, than he intended, and told me not to move. Then he left.

So I sat. And my child brain told me that I must have done something terrible. And I wanted someone to hold me and tell me I would be okay. But no one did. I wanted to be told the man wouldn't touch me again. But no one did. I needed, badly, to be told that I had done nothing wrong. But no one did.

And that is the extent of my memory. My father tells me that he left because he found the man who had molested me and threatened to kill him. That doesn't really help me. My parents told me that they met with the bishop, that I came with them, that I told my story, and they discussed bringing charges against the man. No charges were brought.

And I am left with the memory of being attacked, molested, and when seeking comfort, instead being met with anger. While it was not directed at me, it is all I remember. Church bathrooms are still a place of fear for me, years later. And while I despise myself for this, I am still afraid of mentally disabled men, as a group.

So two days ago I went to church. And two disabled men sat in front of me. And that experience has triggered PTSD symptoms that rage in my gut. A war has begun. PTSD brings to the fore all the bizarre and unnatural impulses and feelings I have toward loved ones in my life. I spend time that could be used for work and rest and normal life interactions, reminding myself that such impulses and feelings are not appropriate nor logical. I watch everything I say, to make sure I'm not expressing something strange or ugly. I don't touch people.

I completely understand that what is happening is my body and brain reminding me that something horrible happened to me a long time ago and that it's not quite healed. I completely understand that if I feel something inappropriate toward another person, this is not an authentic feeling, nor is it coming from the person who is really me. I completely understand that, while I may have impulses or thoughts that are immoral or violent, this is not what I would do if I had experienced less violence in my own life.

The feelings and impulses feel foreign and wrong. They also feel appropriate to the situation. And because I understand where they come from, I allow them. Attempting to shelve or stop them simply causes an increase in intensity and a decreased ability to manage them. But as I allow those to happen, I also completely understand that, were anyone I love to know about them, they would be tremendously uncomfortable. I also believe our relationship would be irreparably damaged. No one really wishes intimacy with someone who, voluntarily or not, periodically feels things or wishes to act in ways that are reprehensible..

That, naturally, creates conflict. And a little bit of self-loathing. And a whole lot of frustration.

And so I wait. The wait is miserable. I get cranky and sad. But someday this will ease up, and I'll be back to the calm days that are also stressful because I know, at some point, I'll be back in the PTSD war with myself again.

What do I want right now? I want the war to end. I understand that most everyone experiences unwanted feelings and impulses, but I want to have impulses and feelings that are less bizarre and frightening - ones that don't make me feel I'm a psychopath. I want to believe that, even if the people in my life know that I think or feel these things, they would understand that's not who I really am, that I'm not violent or crazy, and that they can still love me even in the moments when I'm battling PTSD. I want, someday, to be free of the vicious cycle.

What do I need? Probably more than anything, I need someone to hold my hand and tell me it's okay. Weird.
Usually when this happens, I wait to talk about it. I wait until the calm has come. Otherwise, I'm fairly certain the post will feel passive aggressive, at best. I am not a passive aggressive person. Those closest to me have known me to occasionally say something that is. Then they have known me to recognize it for what it is, quickly apologize, and then retreat until I'm able to act like a real human being again.

However, this time I need to talk. Should I sound whiny or self-absorbed or, yes, even passive aggressive, then so be it. I apologize in advance.

What does it feel like to have PTSD?

I've attempted to answer this question so many times, and always, I have failed miserably. This time I am answering the question while the symptoms rage and my ability to be rational is gone.

PTSD is something that lurks quietly beneath the surface during the calm times. In those moments, I feel the most like myself. I recognize my feelings and reactions. They feel logical and appropriate. But always, I am aware that I might hear or see or otherwise experience something that will awaken the PTSD symptoms. Always.

So I look for ways to circumvent that possibility. I avoid large, noisy crowds. On days when I feel particularly vulnerable, I avoid people, altogether. I don't watch movies that graphically depict violence, especially sexual violence, toward women. I don't go places where I might feel unsafe (translation: I stay home with the door locked and I don't answer my phone). On highly sensitive days, I don't touch people.

What this all means is that when the calm days are present, I spend most of my time trying to avoid things and waiting for the less than calm days. Which translates into a lot of stress. At some point, when my life will allow it, I will meet with Therapist and talk about ways to live my life again - to really live, not just await the next time I will feel the full impact of PTSD and spend each moment trying to appear normal while dealing with the mess it makes of me.

I am currently not in the calm days.

It was a small thing, really. I went to church. And two men came in and sat on the pew in front of me. They were mentally challenged/disabled/whatever the current politically correct word is.

I need to say this: I have spent my life in fear of those who are mentally disabled - especially mentally disabled men. Judge me, if you will. I am fearful of them, but I do not hate them. I recognize my fear is irrational and wrong and the each person is unique. I've even spent time with the mentally disabled, volunteering, or just visiting, in an attempt to allay my fear.

But this fear stems from a time very, very long ago. Eight-year-old Samantha was attending a men's church basketball game with her father. She needed to use the bathroom. So she skipped to the ladies room, used the facilities, and was washing up when she realized she had been followed by a man. He was watching her. She turned to him, remembering that he was mentally disabled, thinking that perhaps he had gone to the wrong bathroom by mistake, and he grabbed her.

Understand, at age 8, I was very small. I had not reached four feet in height and I weighed about 40 pounds. This was a grown man in his mid-30s. A very strong, grown man. He began roughly removing my clothing, and I was terrified. I screamed, fought, bit, scratched... it didn't matter. I remember finally getting away, grabbing my clothes, and running. I heard him say, as I reached the door, "Don't tell your dad. Don't you tell your dad." I turned my defiant, angry, scared-out-of-my-mind self to him and said firmly, "I WILL tell him. I'm telling him right now." And then I ran.

I have no idea how I dressed while running, but I arrived at my father's side, fully clothed. I stood quietly next to him. He must have notice that I was upset because he tore his attention away from the game to ask if I was okay. I don't remember what I said, but I conveyed what had just happened to me. I watched my father become angry. He picked me up, sat me on a chair more firmly, I think, than he intended, and told me not to move. Then he left.

So I sat. And my child brain told me that I must have done something terrible. And I wanted someone to hold me and tell me I would be okay. But no one did. I wanted to be told the man wouldn't touch me again. But no one did. I needed, badly, to be told that I had done nothing wrong. But no one did.

And that is the extent of my memory. My father tells me that he left because he found the man who had molested me and threatened to kill him. That doesn't really help me. My parents told me that they met with the bishop, that I came with them, that I told my story, and they discussed bringing charges against the man. No charges were brought.

And I am left with the memory of being attacked, molested, and when seeking comfort, instead being met with anger. While it was not directed at me, it is all I remember. Church bathrooms are still a place of fear for me, years later. And while I despise myself for this, I am still afraid of mentally disabled men, as a group.

So two days ago I went to church. And two disabled men sat in front of me. And that experience has triggered PTSD symptoms that rage in my gut. A war has begun. PTSD brings to the fore all the bizarre and unnatural impulses and feelings I have toward loved ones in my life. I spend time that could be used for work and rest and normal life interactions, reminding myself that such impulses and feelings are not appropriate nor logical. I watch everything I say, to make sure I'm not expressing something strange or ugly. I don't touch people.

I completely understand that what is happening is my body and brain reminding me that something horrible happened to me a long time ago and that it's not quite healed. I completely understand that if I feel something inappropriate toward another person, this is not an authentic feeling, nor is it coming from the person who is really me. I completely understand that, while I may have impulses or thoughts that are immoral or violent, this is not what I would do if I had experienced less violence in my own life.

The feelings and impulses feel foreign and wrong. They also feel appropriate to the situation. And because I understand where they come from, I allow them. Attempting to shelve or stop them simply causes an increase in intensity and a decreased ability to manage them. But as I allow those to happen, I also completely understand that, were anyone I love to know about them, they would be tremendously uncomfortable. I also believe our relationship would be irreparably damaged. No one really wishes intimacy with someone who, voluntarily or not, periodically feels things or wishes to act in ways that are reprehensible..

That, naturally, creates conflict. And a little bit of self-loathing. And a whole lot of frustration.

And so I wait. The wait is miserable. I get cranky and sad. But someday this will ease up, and I'll be back to the calm days that are also stressful because I know, at some point, I'll be back in the PTSD war with myself again.

What do I want right now? I want the war to end. I understand that most everyone experiences unwanted feelings and impulses, but I want to have impulses and feelings that are less bizarre and frightening - ones that don't make me feel I'm a psychopath. I want to believe that, even if the people in my life know that I think or feel these things, they would understand that's not who I really am, that I'm not violent or crazy, and that they can still love me even in the moments when I'm battling PTSD. I want, someday, to be free of the vicious cycle.

What do I need? Probably more than anything, I need someone to hold my hand and tell me it's okay. Weird.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

For years I have asserted that I will be okay. It's who I am. I've spent my life perfecting the art of being okay. And I will.

What I've noticed is, while I insist that I will be okay, I lose the sense of who I am. I'm concentrating so intently on making sure I don't bother any person who might know me with not being okay, that I get completely lost in the effort. For the last decade, when this happens, I've turned to Josh, AtP, and Tolkien Boy to remind me about the person I was before I got so busy being okay.

Yeah. That last paragraph made no sense at all.

But the fact is, whether or not it makes sense, it's still true.

What also happened during the past decade is that Josh, AtP, and Tolkien Boy got lives and are living them. Which means I have to remind myself who I am. And this is a good thing. I need to be self-reliant. Self-aware. Self-sufficient.

Mostly, this works out. When I have time to regroup and space to think, I find myself and continue doing whatever it is I do. But sometimes, like today, I just feel a little bit like an alien and I'm not really sure why I am at all.

It's just that everything that's happening in my life is new and unfamiliar and difficult and overwhelming. And today I feel unable to cope with it. And lost. And more than a little alone - which is completely ridiculous because I live with three other people in a 2-bedroom apartment, and don't even ask how that's going because I don't think I can talk about it without losing my mind. Regardless, I'm the furthest thing from alone.

And I'll be okay. That's what I do. I'm okay. But someday, I would like to be more than okay.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Just another day.

Today is my birthday. :)

I will celebrate by continuing to pack up my home so we can move on Saturday. Well, we. I'll be staying behind to clean for a couple of days, Then I'll join my family in a two-bedroom apartment while we look for a home to buy. It's a little daunting, I'll admit.

I'm hopeful that I'll be able to steal a few moments of quiet time, though. It's always been my tradition, even when I was a child and everyone else forgot that this was the day of my birth, to just take a little bit of time and celebrate me. It was important. I needed to remember that this was a significant day in my life. I still need to remember that.

Last year I talked with my family about maybe doing something a little bigger to celebrate on my next birthday. Darrin got very enthusiastic about throwing me a party which effectively killed my tiny desire to have a small celebration. He was miffed at my lack of enthusiasm and threatened to throw me a surprise party. I told him, if that happened, I would walk out. He thought I was being churlish. It took seven months to help him understand that I'm not, I just need to have control of what happens with me on this day. It's difficult for me. I don't need someone taking that control away from me, even when they have the best of intentions.

So instead of a small celebration this year, I'll be getting ready to move. And that's okay. But in the meantime, happy birthday to me! I was born! Yay!

Addendum: I had to go to the doctor today. As I was checking out, a small child was reading a book that would play The Birthday Song whenever you opened it. So I got a song today, too.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Running Again

Midnight, and I should be sleeping. How I feel the need to keep typing after doing transcription this entire day is baffling to me. Too much on my mind?

I'm packing up years of living during the next couple of weeks. Throwing out things that have sat waiting for that event for too long. Packing away books and games. Wondering if they will be stored for the rest of my lifetime or if I'll find the energy, one day, to open the boxes in which they reside.

I run every morning now. My feet know every inch of the trail I've traversed for the past two decades. It's August. The baby hawks are now adults, circling in the blue sky as I run below. Most of the wildflowers are gone. Yellow clover persists in its blossoming, along with some red-petaled daisies. Occasionally, the intense blue of my favorite flax flowers shows. Their season finished with July, but a few of the plants forgot to stop blooming. Grasshoppers with colorful wings leap in front of my feet. Shiny black beetles and spiders scurry from me. The prairie grass is long now, and golden.

Soon I will run here no more. Will I miss it? Tolkien Boy asked me this a long time ago. And the answer is yes, but this has never been my home. I'm not sure there is a place for me anywhere. For now, I will savor the moments I have left before I move to a new place.

In the new place there will be times when air quality will preclude running outside. A track or treadmill in a gym will be my new haven. No hawks. No wildflowers. No prairie grass. I think I will miss it then.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I've stayed away from here for the past three weeks. I've cycled through so many emotions, and I'm learning that I can't really trust any of them anymore. Writing about them simply reminds me that I'm unbalanced.I don't need that reminder. And I'm not in a place where trying to sort through the mess brings any sort of solace or relief. So why would I make a record of what I'm going through right now? That makes no sense.

I'm here now because my head got too full.

Jeff's wife has filed for divorce. Jeff, who was my mirror image as a child. Jeff, who now can't manage his life without alcohol and will lose everything. His wife stayed longer than I would have. She supported him, hopeful that he would find the strength to heal. He didn't. When I spoke with Jeff on his birthday, he was so drunk I could barely understand him. He's a mess. I don't know that he'll get better. When I spoke with his wife on Jeff's birthday, she said she's at peace with her decision. She hopes we'll remain friends. I do, too.

I'm not sure what the subtle difference is that whispers to me, even when I cannot manage PTSD symptoms, that I'm better than this. I don't know why, even when I'm in pain and despair, I know I'm going to be okay. I don't know why I will survive and somehow rise victorious in the end, while Jeff loses job after job, and now his wife and home. I don't know why.

Indomitable.

A teacher once used that word to describe me. There was a rueful edge in the description. Impossible to subdue. While he celebrated my eternal enthusiasm, he wished it was not quite so loud. Today I am grateful for that quality which causes me to celebrate beauty, hope for the best, and know that I will succeed. And I will. Perhaps not in my own time frame, but I will.

In the meantime, I battle the remainder of depression. I try different strategies to manage the PTSD symptoms skewing my perception of people and social interaction, leaving me wondering if I can still be loved or wanted. And next week, I'll feel differently. I just have to make it to next week.

Indomitable. Unable to be subdued. It's still inside me. It surges forth each time I meet an obstacle or experience failure and pushes me to try again. And I do, often as I push through feelings of despair and exhaustion. It's not pretty. It's who I am. That feels desperately pathetic. I'm the person who bobs to the water's surface as I go over Niagara Falls. I can breathe as I plunge to my death?

It doesn't make sense. And tonight I have no idea if it even matters. It just is. I don't even know what I'm talking about anymore.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Weeks

That's how long I'm giving the post-anesthesia depression. I think it's reasonable. About one week per hour that I was in surgery.

Today I'm acknowledging everything I feel.

Yesterday was my post-op check. It didn't go amazingly well. Surprise!

My doctor's still scratching his head. He chose an anti-inflammatory from a different drug family from the ones that cause my body to get horribly sick and lose consciousness, hoping that I would be able to tolerate it. I had the same reaction to it, but sooner than with the others so I was still in the hospital when it happened. Then part of my lung collapsed in spite of the fact that I was doing the respiratory therapy and taking in larger volumes of air than most post-op patients. There's no reason for that to have happened. I speculate it might have something to do with my having asthma and being under anesthesia for nearly four hours, but I'm not a doctor.

Then there's the no pain thing. Hysterectomies and collapsed lungs are notoriously painful. I've had zero pain. None. I tried to talk to him about how sometimes trauma people shut down that part of their brains. It's not a conscious thing, it just happens. Especially (for me, anyway) if they're triggered intensely or for a long duration. He just shook his head and said the lung should be cutting through all that. Well, it's not.

Then he laughed and said I was one of his most puzzling patients. Thanks. Thanks for that. I think I need a t-shirt with a fun slogan now.

And, of course, I had to have a vaginal exam. That's yucky.

But I'm cleared to drive and go walking and go on road trips if I stop every couple of hours and walk around. And I can do planks and all the maintenance exercises for my bionic hip. And I can lift up to 10 pounds.

So I suppose if I have to label the feelings in order from most to least intense, they are as follows:
1. Lonely
2. Sad
3. Freakish
4. Unlovable
5. Unwanted
6. Frustrated
7. Grumpy
8. Afraid

And I suppose these are the things I wish would happen:
1. I wish my parents would call me and see how I'm doing. My brother is trying to go through a divorce, so they're sort of distracted by that, but I still wish they'd just call. Still, I'm using their house while they're gone so that I can have peace and quiet during the day, so maybe it's okay if they don't check on me.

2. I wish my sisters would call me. One of them has. And another one has been texting me - she doesn't have to call because her 14-year-old son was in a 4-wheeler accident and is all broken right now. She's got lots to take care of, so I'm happy with the texts. It's nice that she thinks of me in spite of the stress she's under. But I have three other sisters. One I contacted prior to surgery because she's had a hysterectomy before. I was hoping to be able to ask questions and get some reassurance. She never returned my calls or answered my texts. She still hasn't contacted me. I wish she would. I don't know. My family's never been good about talking to me when I'm having difficulty. Silly to wish for the leopard to change its spots, I guess. And my kids are making sure I'm okay. And Darrin. Even Darrin's dad checks in on me. So it's not like no one's talking to me. Still, I wish my sisters would.

3. I wish anyone would call me. Weird. I'm even answering the phone when a scammer or solicitor calls. Just to talk. I mean, I let them tell me all the reasons I should buy or donate, or that my computer is at risk, or someone is using my internet without my permission, or they're from the IRS and I owe money so they're taking everything I own. And I tell them I don't want to buy or donate and that I'm okay with risk and internet use and I'm pretty sure they're not the IRS because the IRS uses snail mail, not phone calls, to contact people. And then I say I've had major surgery, and I really appreciate them calling and talking with me because it's been pretty quiet lately. And I ask them about their families, and their jobs (and suggest they get real ones), and sometimes I say I have a great recipe to share with them, but mostly I don't get to that point because they hang up on me. Sigh.

Okay. It's pretty clear that I'm needing people. Also clear that talking with strangers on the phone isn't filling that need. And weird for me. I'm not used to wanting to be with people.

People interaction, however, is beyond my control. I've initiated contact a few times. I've called or texted people. But it's not the same as being contacted by them. After three or four days of that, I just feel like a bother. So I've stopped doing that unless I'm really in dire need. Like yesterday. After I saw the doctor. I was pretty messed up, emotionally, so I checked in with Tolkien Boy. He was at work, but he talked with me a bit. I felt badly about bothering him at work. But it was sort of necessary to talk to someone. As I said, I was messy and I really needed a person. I hate it, but I'm not stupid. If I don't find someone when I'm like that, it gets worse.

Since people interaction is pretty much beyond my control, and I've been cleared to start walking, I believe that's what I'll be doing. And I need to get more books to read. And I have enough work to kill me. Toward the end of the week I'll start practicing again. Maybe I'll find something good on Netflix to watch.

I am going to make it through this depression thing.

Oh, yeah. And I'll be talking with Therapist soon.

Someday, I would like to not be like this - not needy and stupid vulnerable. I seriously need to figure out how to do things on my own.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How am I doing?

I'm actually not sure why I write here anymore. Maybe to keep a record? I'm pretty sure it's not because I feel the need to share. Writing it down brings more distress than solace now. Probably, when all is said and done, I am simply a creature of habit, and I've been writing about my life for more than a decade.

I came home from the hospital with a catheter. The surgeon wanted to make sure that all his scar tissue removal and rerouting and whatever else remained undisturbed until yesterday, at which point I could have the catheter removed. At least, that's what I remember being told.

Having the catheter placed was terrifying. And painful. But I survived. Sort of.

Having a catheter means I am being touched 24/7 in a place that triggers all sorts of PTSD symptoms, none of which are pleasant. During the day, I can manage it. At night, management is impossible. Sleep was scarce, and when it happened, the nightmares were terrifying. But it was only until yesterday, and I could manage.

********************************************

I wrote that last Tuesday. Then I got tired and stopped. I'm tired a lot.

When they removed the catheter on Monday I was informed that I needed to pee, then a straight catheter would be placed to measure what was left in my bladder. If it was determined that I was not voiding enough, another Foley catheter would be placed and I would be sent home to heal for another two weeks.

Then the nurse asked if I felt able to urinate. I said no. She told me to go home, drink lots of water, and come back when I was able.

So I walked to the car with my husband who had accompanied me because I'm not supposed to drive until I'm a week post-op. And then I had one of the biggest meltdowns of my life. It continued until I got home, then continued when I got inside the house and basically consisted of me crying hysterically and saying at different volume levels:
1. I would not have another catheter.
2. They can't make me have another catheter.
3. I'm not going back to the doctor's office.
4. I would rather die than be touched ever again in my entire life.
And then I vomited a few times just for good measure.

You see, I made it through having a catheter for five days and four nights. That's five days and four nights of constantly being triggered. Five days of constantly managing feelings that threatened to overwhelm me and make me die, and four nights of continuous nightmares, paranoia, and terror that I was being molested and raped over and over again. Reading those words, I can see how they don't really convey the depths of what was going on. After all, I'm only talking about feelings and nightmares. I suppose the depth lies in the fact that I've lived the reality.

Darrin let me rant and rave and vomit, then, after assuring me that the I didn't have to go back, he suggested maybe it would be a good idea to just go talk with the doctor so he'd know what was going on. I thought about it for an hour, then decided maybe I could do that. But I didn't want to. And I was scared out of my mind to go back.

We got to the office and were put in an exam room. The nurse came and told me that everything was set up in the bathroom for me to use. I said, okay, but maybe we should talk first. I meant to be lucid and calm and just explain everything. I started out that way. I told her I had PTSD and that drugs could not be prescribed for me so I ran and did physical exercise to manage the symptoms and that hadn't been available to me for the past five days during which I had been triggered constantly because the catheter was touching me constantly. Then it ramped up into another hysterical crying jag that ended with me saying that I didn't know why my bladder had to be checked to make sure I was emptying, but if it meant that something bad happened inside and the surgery was all messed up or I bled to death, that was okay with me because I wasn't having another catheter, and then repeating several times that I would rather die than be touched again.

She looked a little shell-shocked. Then she assured me that I didn't have to have a catheter, and told me the reason for the procedure was to make sure I was emptying completely because apparently, having a too-full bladder for too long can cause the stitching to become unstable. Then she assured me she would talk with the doctor, suggested I try peeing, and sort of ran out of the room.

So I did.

And the bathroom was right next to the exam room so when the doctor came to talk to Darrin, I heard everything. Darrin was asked if I was getting help for the PTSD. Darrin said yes. Then he was asked if I had seen a mental health professional. Darrin said yes. Had I been in contact with that person prior to surgery? Yes. Then Darrin said that, given the amount of emotional stress I had been suffering due to the length of time I'd been required to wear the catheter, he thought I was reacting very calmly, and suggested it might be a good idea for the doctor to ask a few questions of his PTSD patients and make sure they were okay before prescribing procedures that traumatize those patients. The doctor agreed that he ought to have gotten more information about me prior to surgery, then let Darrin know I needed to stay in contact with the therapist because otherwise, given the things I'd just said, they would need to report the incident and have me admitted to the hospital for further mental/emotional help.

I have no idea who they would report it to. That's just a weird thing to say.

Darrin said that was the plan. Then he said that while I was in the hospital they had checked my bladder capacity with an ultrasound machine. Surely that could be used again? The doctor said yes, so I decided it was safe to come out of the bathroom.

So the end of the story is that I had to go back one more time that day and pee again and be ultrasounded, and then I went home and tried to recover from all the crap that had been happening PTSD-wise. And I drove myself. Screw waiting until a week post-op. I'm finished feeling like I have to have people do things for me.

And yes, I talked with Therapist. And he actually was upset at my doctor. He says people go through lots of training, but they either get it or they don't. My doctor understands that I've been through something, but he should have asked me about things that cause me distress. And I should have asked more questions. And probably I wouldn't have made it through surgery without being triggered, but at least I would have had a physician who was checking on me and making sure I wasn't breaking down.

As a side-note, my anesthesiologist got it. He talked at great length with me about things that could be done to make sure I didn't lose it during recovery. He said he'd like to use a spinal as well as general anesthesia and told me why (something about it making 3.5 hours of surgery less traumatizing all around), and asked if I was okay with that. I was. He checked on me three times during recover and, weirdly, while I don't remember much, I do remember that. He always introduced himself and told me why he was there, then asked me how I was feeling, if I was afraid, and what he could do to make things less scary. And he introduced my nurses to me each time. They were always the same two, and he assured me they would be the only ones with me during recovery. But he understood that I wouldn't remember that in five minutes, and he wanted me to feel safe. He gets it.

And when I cried during recovery because I didn't know what was happening to me, the nurses explained. I think they did that repeatedly because I kept waking up in terror, but they didn't seem to mind. They held my hand and reminded me who I was, where I was, and why I was there. Over and over again. They get it.

And now it's Sunday, 11 days post-op. I'd like to say I'm fine, but the post-anesthesia depression set in today. I think I've been crying for six hours. I know why. I know I'm fine. I understand this happens every time I go under general anesthesia. But it sucks. A lot. I can't even describe the level of sad and lonely and worthless I feel.

Three weeks is the longest I've ever had post-anesthesia depression. I can make it three weeks.