Thursday, June 28, 2007
Case in point:
I met Darrin and Sully at Walmart last night. They were talking. I brought up a member of Darrin's ward that Sully had a brief crush on last December, because an odd coincidence had brought that former ward member to AtP's door last week. I didn't look at Sully. I was careful to avoid his eyes. We kept talking. But Sully was sort of laughing, and when I finally did look at him, he started really laughing. He asked, "Do you know why I'm uncomfortable?" Bad question to ask me. I cracked up. Darrin looked confused. Sully said, "You know, don't you?" Of course I know. Sully is not hard to read, and I was with him the first time the emotions crossed his face.
I didn't say anything to him in December, because I was trying, in spite of my innate insensitivity, to give him some privacy. However, he blogged about it (silly Sully), and I couldn't help myself. I had to tease him. When the man-crush passed (because the person in question shaved his goatee) I left this comment on Sully's blog: I like him better without the goatee. Maybe I have a crush on him now, so I'm glad there's a little less competition. You'd win in the cuteness category--but I'd beat you in the gender-preference one. Sully countered, of course, with the thought that his former crush might be gay (no, he's not), but when Sully asked me if I knew the name of his erstwhile man-crush, I would never give him a straight answer.
So, here we were, six months later, a blushing Sully finally knew that I had known all along, and I was laughing my head off. I'm a good friend. The thing is, when I remember some of the people I was randomly attracted to, that makes me laugh, as well. Only one thing is certain in my life, nothing is sacred. So if something is really, really serious to you, it's probably a good idea not to share it with me.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
There are new vaccinations available for her. Hepatitis A, which she got. Tetanus, now combined with pertussis (since we've had trouble with whooping cough outbreaks in our county), which she got. Meningitis, which she got. Cervical cancer, which we opted to postpone. We read the literature together and I let Tabitha decide which ones she wanted. She said in reference to cervical cancer, "Mom, it says you get this if you're sexually active. I'm not."
I told Tabitha the day might come that she was, and even if she only had one partner, she had no control over his sexual activity, so it would be good to be protected. She said, "Maybe when I'm older." I told her okay, but she needed to tell me if she was planning to be sexually active in the meantime (I was teasing her). She looked at me and said, "Mom. I weigh 65 pounds and I have no boobs. No one wants to have sex with me, and I want to have sex with no one."
I said, "If you have no boobs, why do you wear a bra." Tabitha answered, "Well, you're always telling me I should practice anything I want to be good at."
I love my daughter. I think she's hilarious. She ended up getting 3 shots. She just sat calmly and let them poke her. My boys, at that age, had to be restrained, and we had to drag Adam from the bathroom last year.
Oh, yes, DJ also got the hepatitis and meningitis vaccines (but not the cervical cancer one--he thinks he'll play the odds on getting that particular STD). When the nurse was finished poking him, he asked for a Popcicle, then laughed at me as I rolled my eyes at him. However, we didn't have to restrain him to administer the shots, which is good, since he's twice my size. Progress.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Leaving Darrin at home (because he scoffs at our need for flowers, and gasps at the price we pay), we go together to the greenhouse. DJ, Adam, and Tabitha all have their own ideas of what we should buy, and I allow them to choose three annuals and one perennial each. The perennials which have survived are already blooming and making me itch to give them neighbors.
Usually, my kids are right there with me, planning what they'll choose to plant. However, when I asked them this year, Tabitha suggested I ask my readers to tell me their favorite flowers and we'd plant our garden based on the responses I receive. It's not a bad idea, but I pointed out that I didn't know how many of my visitors would have a preference, and I only get a few comments, so there might not be very much participation. Adam seconded her idea, though, so here I am, asking for input.
If you have a favorite, annual or perennial, will you let me know? Include your favorite color with the suggestion. If enough people help with this, I promise to post a picture when we're finished. I do warn everyone, though, that I don't supervise the planting. I just let the kids dig holes and put in the plants where ever they believe they'll look nice. It usually ends up looking like a jumbled mass of color--and I love it! Feel free to suggest more than one item. Variety is the spice of life.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Therapist: Hi, I'm ________________.
Me: Good to meet you.
T: Would you like to tell me what brought you here today.
Me: I had an appointment.
T: I meant, what events led you to seek counseling.
Me: It was suggested to me when I ended up in the hospital about a month ago.
T: Why were you there?
Me: I was very sad.
T: Are you on medication now?
Me: No. There's really nothing to medicate.
T: Well, there are lots of medical options to treat depression.
Me: What makes you think I'm depressed?
T: Well, you said you were sad, and you ended up at the hospital.
Me: Before we talk about how to medicate my sadness, wouldn't you like to know the reasons behind it?
T: Of course, but in the meantime we can help your depression lift a little so that you can work better.
Me: Why do you believe I'm depressed?
T: You said you were sad.
Me: Are you ever sad?
T: Of course.
Me: What do you take to medicate your sadness?
T: Actually, I don't take anything.
The first two therapists were highly interested in giving me pretty pills to take. Honestly, if I thought they were making the suggestion based on the facts behind why I was struggling emotionally, I would take them. I'm not stupid. But they never bothered to ask the right questions. And I don't trust them at all.
I stepped into the third therapist's office and started to cry. I was tired, scared, and frustrated. She handed me a box of tissues. Then she said, "Will you tell me what's behind those tears?" So I told her--I didn't want to be there. I wanted to go home. I was tired of trying to get better, and Smart Psychiatrist guy said I probably never would. She said it was okay to feel tired, and even to take a rest. We could work on anything I'd like to. So I cried some more, and she asked all the right questions. I told her about my experiences with abuse. She cried a little bit with me. I said I didn't think therapists should do that. She told me that sometimes therapists have emotions, too, and in a perfect world they don't express them at a therapy session. But she pointed out that my story is a bit sad, and sometimes human emotions cause tears. I decided it was okay this time.
She talked a lot about PTSD symptoms and asked if I'd had any of them. Sometimes it sucks to say yes.
At one point I became very overwhelmed. She told me she knew I'd been there a long time and asked if I wanted to take a break. I said no, I wanted to go home. She asked if I would come back next week. I said yes. Before I left she said that most PTSD patients don't have complete recovery--but they do learn to cope. And some of the stronger ones actually live symptom free if they're given the proper treatment. She thinks I'm strong. I feel anything but that.
She said something that made me think, though. We discussed how people like me cycle through relationships. She told me I was very blessed to have been able to build and maintain a strong marriage--it's not a common thing for anyone, but people with PTSD struggle more than the average person when it comes to sustaining close personal relationships. I told her that I was really having difficulty right now, with everyone I contact, and that there were times when it just seemed easier to isolate, or just work on my marriage and let everyone else slide away. She said that it might be easier, but if I allowed the cycle to continue, I will eventually destroy myself. She said it undermines my self-esteem, my confidence, and my social/emotional maturity. I was a little offended--but after thinking about it tonight, and doing more research, I know she's right. I just don't know what to do next.
That seems to be the status quo right now.
Once at the dollar store, my true adventure began. I decided to walk through the food/candy aisles and just choose some things that looked interesting. I selected some innocuous looking foods, then bought Bugles because everyone likes those. I bought a Pilates DVD, some wipes for cleaning the inside of the car (stop laughing at me AtP), some finiture wipes, bathroom cleaner, two types of drain opener, foaming oxygenated grease cleaner, and party cups.
On the way home I tasted all the interesting new stuff (which was a singularly bad idea since I hadn't eaten yet today). Results:
1. Werther's Original Toffee Chews--not bad. If you like caramels, these are like mildly flavored ones. I would buy these again.
2. Breath Savers (wintergreen, spearmint, and citrus flavored)--as I'm a fan of Breath Savers, these were great (especially since they cost about 33 cents per roll) which was no surprise since I sort of live on breath mints. I got the citrus flavored ones for my kids.
3. Chocolate covered Tootsie Roll bites--I like Tootsie Rolls. These were awful. They tasted nothing like chocolate, and I was hard-pressed to identify any Tootsie Roll flavor either. I don't know whose idea this was, but it was a bad one.
4. Vanilla filled tube-shaped wafer cookie things--these came in a cool tin, and that was the best part. Imagine spreading fairly tasteless vanilla frosting on corrugated cardboard and you'll have a good idea of how these taste. Adam took one bite, calculated the cost of each individual cookie and paid me to allow him to throw his in the trash.
5. Almond flavored windmill cookies--I don't know what the manufacturer's idea of almond flavoring is, but these did not taste like almond. I would describe the flavor as a cross between cloves, nutmeg and anise. The texture was that of a very hard, thick cracker. These will be tossed in the trash. I don't believe they could pass as dog biscuits, even if dipped in gravy first.
6. Bugles--the real ones, not a store-brand pretender. My children rose up and called me blessed because I rarely buy fried or high-fat foods. These were a big hit, of course. I even ate some. I actually like the caramel Bugles--you should try these if you haven't, and let me know what you think of them.
And now that I've had my annual risk-taking adventure, I will return to my mundane existence with relief.
I recognized, about three months ago, that I was experiencing less clarity of thought, decreased ability to make decisions about my emotional needs, and huge conflict in my feelings and desires. It was, and is, not unusual for me to feel simultaneously the need to be held and comforted along with an extreme desire to be left alone. I'm dying for help from someone--anyone--and more than likely I'll end up slapping away any metaphorically outstretched hand. "Agonizing to watch..." said my friend...imagine how it feels.
I'm trying to understand why this is happening. I know it's not emotionally healthy for me to say, "Please care about me deeply, and then go away and leave me alone." I've allowed more emotional intimacy with more people this year than ever before in my life--not just virtually, but also in person. I've allowed physical touch from people other than my husband--not just quick hug-and-step-away stuff--but real, honest, communicative touch. I've even allowed hand touching for longer than a Mormon handshake, with one person. And what my therapist(s) have told me is true--there is greater communication when people touch while talking. It's not that I've never touched people before, I've just never allowed them to touch me.
So now I'm trying to process all this emotional intimacy/non-sexual physical touch stuff, and it's messing me up inside. For whatever reason, it seems impossible for me to just accept that certain things are. I have to know why, what it means to me, personally, and how I will use it in my life. So I've been digging around, trying to figure things out and I've come up with exactly zero answers.
In the meantime, I believe I've been taking my frustration out on my friends. So I'm going to explain my feelings--and then, if you're one of those lucky people, you'll know why I'm acting like a crazy person:
1. I feel that for the first time in my life, I actually need other people.
2. There are specific needs I have for each person in my life. These may include needing to feel loved, accepted, respected. They may even include a desire to be hugged or held. I have not felt these needs since I was in my early teens. To have them return now is disconcerting.
3. I feel horribly guilty that I need these things. I want to be able to accept any friendship offered and just float along until we get bored of one another. I don't want to muddy the waters by "needing" anything--especially when that might make the other person uneasy or uncomfortable. I also feel that there's something wrong with me because I want something, emotionally, from a friend.
4. In the midst of all this, I feel an extreme need to be independent. If someone offers to help, I'll probably say no--even though I'm dying to say yes.
5. Because of all the guilt, neediness, and assertive independence, I feel a compelling need to isolate myself--perhaps on a desert island until I die.
After reviewing all the evidence above, I have come to the only possible conclusion. In spite of the chronological and physical data to the contrary, I have just turned three years old. There is no other explanation for my behavior and feelings. And don't argue with me about this...three-year-olds hate to be wrong.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Here's the link: http://FreeOnlineSurveys.com/rendersurvey.asp?sid=zd9c2jun846p8le313826
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I listen as these men express longings I cannot understand. The closest feeling I've had to what they describe is when I became overwhelmed earlier this year, with the need to be held in a non-sexual way, by someone who had no attraction to me. Not the same thing by a long shot, but still, I think the longing part I may have started to understand. Those feelings have since gone away, and now when I feel emotions, they seem to last about ten or fifteen minutes, then they pass and leave me feeling a bit confused that they happened in the first place. I find myself apologizing for acting out of character, building a wall to protect the vulnerable place, and moving on with life.
I have never wanted anyone to share my life, to take care of me when I was ill (I still hate it when someone tries to empathize or help me when I'm sick), to be with me every day. The fact that Darrin is there to fill those non-existent needs is somewhat of a mystery to me. The fact that he stays, knowing I really don't want anyone, is something I understand even less. Perhaps he knows that I love him deeply, and can see beneath all the layers to the point where what I think I need is less valid than what he knows I need. And for whatever reason, he's willing to continue to give to a less than grateful recipient.
I have heard the men I've been "studying" talk about romantic love. Their definition of that phenomenon is much different from my own--which of course, isn't a real definition, but one that I twist to suit my own needs. They listen to songs and respond to the lyrics, attaching hidden meanings and hopeful dreams. I listen to songs and analyze the chord structure, admire occasional musicianship or clever wordsmithing. They dream of their "one and only", "soulmate", "perfect guy", "forever friend." I dream of sleeping, making it through another day successfully, beautiful sights, a really great practice session.
I thought that I would find some answers with the people I've come to know. Instead, I've found more questions about myself. As I've learned how to heal from my past, I'm realizing that it's not really changing who I am. I'm not more "normal". I still feel the need to isolate. I still fight against allowing people to be close to me. I still feel at peace only when I'm running alone. It seems I attached more importance to the results of abuse than I should have. The truth, I suppose, is that I'm just this way.
Sometimes, though, I would like to know how it feels to long for someone with all my soul, to view the world through "in love" eyes, to feel giddy and excited just to be with someone special. To have a heart broken because of love, not because of fear or violence, seems an experience every person should have. To feel purely, and intensely, without a surrounding cushion of numbness, practicality, and inevitability...
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Following that online conversation, I actually talked with a couple of other trusted friends, revealing the extent and nature of the abuse and allowing myself to express anger about it. Their reactions were similarly accepting, loving, and supportive. I was surprised. This led me to an exploration of my feelings about Person One. I had not realized how much I despised this part of me. I did a lot of writing, and for the first time, I shared some of that with close friends, allowing them to see what I was thinking and feeling.
I told more people. Some of them took it well, and wanted to be of help. Others expressed their inability to cope with the nature of what I was talking about. Rather than feeling rejected by them, I felt I understood them--relating to my feelings of abhorrence when I first began confronting the problems of my past. Some of those who stepped back, have since come back to touch bases and find out how I'm doing. I'm realizing that people cope in different ways, and I'm working on not taking personally things that are not aimed at me. It has been a welcome surprise to have those who were appalled by my past, return to try to support me as I work through things.
There have also been some who have been solidly behind me for many months. Without wavering, they've listened to what I've needed to say, offered physical and virtual support, and loved me no matter what. This has been extremely important as I try to understand my own beliefs about my self-worth and feelings of guilt. Also, at this point, my parents and all of my siblings know of the abuse I suffered (although I haven't told them details--the time for that has not come, and it may never be the right thing to tell them), and three of the seven siblings also know of my sexual orientation.
A large part of all this, but also the newest part, has been the process of learning to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and all it's side-effects. I have finally finished researching the illness and understand how it affects my everyday life. With Tolkien Boy's help (which he has offered for more than eight months--even though I asked for it for "two to three weeks"--silly me!), I've once again been able to control my nightmares and get some sleep. And in spite of my recent visit to the hospital's "Behavioral Health Unit", I feel better today than I have in more than a year.
I've noted some interesting things as I feel stronger:
1. My feelings are much more level--sometimes I worry that I'm reverting to my past numbness. But I don't really think that's it. I think I'm just not a highly emotional person. I cope with emotion slowly and methodically. I'm not ignoring things, or burying them, just waiting until I can process without interruption.
2. I don't feel the desperate need for human interaction that I've felt over the past year. I don't think this means that I'm less interested in friends or wanting to become isolated. I've always been happy in my own company, and I don't feel lonely when I'm alone. Solitude is important to me. I seek out other people, still, fairly regularly, but I can't deny who I am or force myself to be who I'm not. I spend more time with my chat windows off, not because I'm avoiding people, but because I'm thinking, processing, and at this point I need to do that without as much input from others. I have to know what I think. But if you've given me ideas, advice, or help of any kind, you should know that I'm thinking of that, as well. It's time for me to put everything together, and that requires quiet thought.
3. There is an amazing feeling of peace when I reflect on my past. I've met the man who abused me. That meeting was rather horrible, but also amazing, because I'm no longer afraid of him. There are two reasons for this, one is that he's just sort of a pathetic, middle-aged man, the second is that I arranged, met with, and controlled that meeting by myself--and thanked God that in the restaurant, Tolkien Boy's hand pushed me forward when I actually caught my first glimpse of my cousin and wanted to turn and run away. However, I did complete the meeting, and the times that I view myself as less than dirt are much less frequent. I'm slowly coming to realize that I'm okay, I'm not a contagious disease, and that good, worthwhile people actually care about me regardless of my past, but also as a result of past events, because those who love me want me to become whole.
4. Many of the overwhelming yearnings I've had are becoming more level. The urge to cut seems to have gone away. I'm eating well and had gained at least 10 pounds at my last weigh-in (and I look normal). For awhile there was a gnawing need to find a source of non-sexual touch outside of those who are related to me by blood or marriage (the ones who have to love me--it's required). That need was making me feel more dependent than was comfortable for me. I fought against it in every way I could devise. When I finally gave in, asked someone if he was willing to provide that for me, and accepted his affirmative answer, the need seemed to diminish. Today, it feels non-existant. For me, that's an amazing relief, because if someone hugs or holds me, I want it to be a mutually beneficial experience. If it happens because I'm horribly needy, I'd rather be dead. I know, extreme, but I'm just expressing how I feel.
5. I'm still an overachieving nut-case. I think I always will be. There are many things I thought would change as I've explored my past. The truth is that while I was definitely affected by the things that happened, most of who I am today is based on the person I would have become under any circumstances. The difference is that now I no longer despise the little girl who was trapped and harmed. I don't hate her for not seeking help--she didn't know how. I don't blame her for not making the abuse stop--it was not in her power. I do wish she hadn't had to endure the sadness and pain--rather, I wish I had not had to endure it. That is something I will always wish. But I also know that my life today is beautiful.
I am left with memories, occasional nightmares, and a trauma disorder. I have found friendship, courage, love and self-worth. I discovered a part of myself I had ignored. For months I watched her, nightly, as she coped with pain, cleaned up the mess, and longed for love. Vicariously, I gave that to her as I controlled my nightmares, and with his permission, used help from Tolkien Boy who held her as she slept, and eventually helped her to stop the abuse altogether. I have seen how she survived and grew into a successful businesswoman, creative musician, mother, and wife. Who can despise that? I can no longer.
I removed the post after about a month. During that month I read the comments of people who responded. I think that was a turning point for me. People did not assign blame to me--they empathized. They mourned for the little girl inside me. And for the first time in many years, I wept because I didn't feel that I had to be alone in this anymore. There were people who didn't really know me, who had no personal connection, but who still cared about something that happened many years ago. That was, perhaps, the first time I believed that I might not be exempt from being able to find human love outside of one or two people.
The experience of showing a part of what had happened to an unknown audience made me feel a bit daring and reckless. I had made a new friend who seemed to enjoy chatting with me often. During one of our conversations I alluded to the abuse in my life, allowing him to know of one of the ways in which I had been raped. His reaction was unexpected and angry. Even though the anger was directed at my cousin, I was unprepared for his emotions. I pulled back immediately and avoided the subject for awhile. But one night I was online after midnight and he began chatting with me. I was tired, I'd had a very difficult day, and I lost all good sense during our conversation. But I think this was the first time that I felt any real emotion about my past and shared it, allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable. I used a word I never use--but it was the best I could come up with for this conversation. I had yet to admit that I had been raped. For whatever reason, rape seemed too horrible to accept. This was a step toward acknowledging that reality:
me: wow--there are lots of people hurting at 2:30 a.m.
Good Friend: yes, you're good to talk with them
me: I don't know why they talk to me--it doesn't solve anything, and I never tell them what to do.
Good Friend: people don't want their problems solved, they want them validated
me: You're probably right. That's an interesting thing to think about, for me, because I DON'T like to talk about my problems.
Good Friend: why not?
me: I suppose because I see them as so ugly, not really sharable
Good Friend: your problems may run deeper than other people's?
me: probably not. It's just how I see it
Good Friend: :) Well, it's not a bad thing unless you need to talk about things
me: That was one of my counseling assignments: Tell others about the abuse in my past. carefully select people I feel safe confiding in. So I blogged it instead. my therapist said it didn't count
Good Friend: he may be right, even talking about it online is different than actually talking to someone
me: So I told you a tiny little bit--and it was upsetting to you. I don't think I'll ever be able to complete that assignment
Good Friend: Well, be fair to me, the fact that you were hurt made me upset because I don't like you to be hurt, but it didn't bring me down
me: I'm not being unfair--I totally understand how it can be upsetting.
Good Friend: or make me feel that I was sorry I asked
me: I told my therapist I didn't understand why it was necessary to tell people. He said, until I can talk about it...it won't be over. I disagree.
Good Friend: really?
me: It was over a long time ago. and yes
Good Friend: but it isn't over for you, I mean, it still bothers you
me: But right now it only affects me. If I tell, then it affects more people. I need to understand why
Good Friend: understand why?
me: Why it's important to share the ugliness
Good Friend: because it's not your responsibility to carry it all?
me: The only one I could tell, whose responsibility it is, is my cousin. He already knows
Good Friend: I guess I'm talking more about the people who love you and want to help
and for you, too, it's tempting to lock things inside that hurt
me: AAGGHHH...this is agonizing.
Good Friend: sorry
me: No I'M sorry
Good Friend: lol, why be sorry? you're a wonderful, precious friend and I want you to be happy. I want there to be nothing you're afraid of. I think that no one who loves you views you as a burden
me: Yeah, but that's the thing--they don't know!!!
Good Friend: what don't they know?
me: How awful--how messed up--how hellishly miserable the things my therapist wants me to say, actually are.
Good Friend: I think, maybe, that's why he wants you to say them so that you can see, through other people's eyes, that there isn't anything that can make people no longer love you and that the things you think are the worst things of you have no bearing on how other people see and love you
me: So if I tell you that when I was almost 12 my cousin fucked the hell out of me--using every orifice possible, and leaving me to clean up my own blood and his semen--every possible night for nearly four months--that doesn't change how you feel about me?
Good Friend: no. I love you every bit as I ever did. I really, really want to give you a hug for having to deal with such a difficult thing
me: I just want to scream
Good Friend: but I love you, and the actions of someone so sick does not make me love you less
me: I don't understand--and I am not a stupid person--how knowing that I've been defiled can't change how people feel
Good Friend: You're not a stupid person at all, but you're missing what I see, which is that the fact that someone took advantage of you doesn't say anything about you. It says too much about him, but all it says is that you've had a horrible, crushing thing to deal with, and your bravery in dealing with it has made you beautiful to me. Maybe it's better explained this way. If I met a girl who had been burned in a fire, I would get to know her and find out who she was. But I wouldn't think that the fact that she got burned said anything about who she was. I know it's different. Metaphors are bad but in my mind, it's about the same distinction.
me: I think I know what you're saying. But I have to say just a couple of things.
First--I really don't want people to pity me. I don't know why that's important to me, but I feel rather fierce about it.
Good Friend: that's understandable
me: Second--I'm so sorry for putting my experiences in the way that I did--sort of attacking and very crass.
Good Friend: well, apology accepted, but I wasn't hurt by it and I wouldn't expect you to not have strong feelings about it
me: No, but I'm very good at controlling my language--I could have said it differently.
Good Friend: I wasn't offended
me: I was.
Good Friend: okay
me: I'm sorry, I'm just a little overwhelmed. I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that I finally told someone--and I don't have a clue what I'm feeling--very confusing. And I'm also trying to move on, so you don't have to think about it anymore.
Good Friend: I'm all right thinking about it for a while
me: I might have an inkling of why my therapist gave me my assignment
Good Friend: why is that?
me: there's actually some relief being felt right now.
Good Friend: Think how much more it would be if I were an actual person!
me: I'm not quite ready for that.
Good Friend: well, that's also understandable, but it's not a bad thing to think about
me: Besides, then I would have to see the emotions felt by said actual person--I don't know if I could deal with that.
Good Friend: if you choose your confidante wisely, I think you'll see love
me: AND they would see me cry--I know I would hate that.
Good Friend: I also hate being vulnerable
me: Yeah. Good Friend, thanks for loving me, in spite of me
Good Friend: Well, I honestly, honestly mean it when I say you've never given me any reason not to love you, and you continue always to be lovable
me: and I love you.
Good Friend: :) then I think we should continue to be friends
me: Okay. Good night
Good Friend: Okay. Good night
For the first time in more than a year, I feel like me again. It's as if all the "new" (which constitutes old stuff I've refused to acknowledge) has merged with the familiar and brought me back to the place where I began.
This time last year, I was two separate people. Person One was a little girl begging to be acknowledged, crying for love and comfort, desperately sad, horribly used and hurt, confused, betrayed and abandoned. I hated and feared her. She represented to me all that was weak and vulnerable. She couldn't protect herself. She endured loathsome abuse that I could hardly bear to think about. I had consciously put her away because it was overwhelming for me to believe that she was me.
Person Two was an overachiever, organized, driven, and logical. She never cried--ever. Failure was not an option. Life was to be laughed at and never mourned. She was not afraid of anything except for the hidden things inside.
Still, Person Two is really an impossible entity. If I hadn't been confronted with my past, I believe I would have driven myself to a breakdown, eventually. As it was, I sort of had one anyway, so maybe that's all part of the package.
At some point I allowed Person One to become known. I began with my husband, then my father, and slowly continued to tell people of my experience--in summarizing sentences with very little detail. There were a few people who got more detail about the things I felt, but not about the abuse experiences themselves. I wrote a romanticized free-write about the way my cousin led up to the point when he actually abused me, and gave the impression that there was one rather sterile night when he raped me. It was too much to actually admit the truth and share it with anyone else. There were too many unresolved feelings, many of guilt and poor self-image. I just couldn't do it. And the truth is, until I was able to say what actually happened, and admit how I felt about it, I couldn't receive that which I needed to heal.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
My parents moved frequently during my elementary school years. Most of the time I didn't mind, but when we moved the final time I was entering fourth grade. We had been living in a tiny town in Idaho. I loved it there. I had many friends, I felt accepted, it was a good place to live. We relocated to Hicktown, Wyoming--and I hated it. Most of the children in my class had lived there all their lives and were not interested in newcomers. Making friends was difficult, and my teacher disliked me, for whatever reason. I remember sitting in front of a boy who was flexing a plastic ruler and releasing it into the back of my neck. I walked to my teacher, who was sitting at her desk, mentioned that it hurt and asked for her help. She told me, rather nastily, "No one likes a tattletale," and went back to grading papers. I walked to my seat and the ruler commenced it's meeting with my neck. The boy finally found another activity when the welts he was making came to the notice of the girl sitting next to him and she mentioned that she was going to beat him up at recess if he didn't stop. This was not a happy class. I felt displaced and lonely.
However, the new school had a very good library. I believe in the three years that I was there, I read every book in the juvenile fiction section, some of them more than once. I immersed myself in reading to escape the new situations in which I found it difficult to cope. By the time I was in sixth grade, I'd found a social circle and a niche, but reading was, and is still, my first love. Darrin understands that he ranks first in my life--right after my love of literature.
My parents had a box filled with paperback classics--Shakespeare, Poe, Dickens, Stevenson, Homer, Scott, Emerson, Thoreau, and others. It was in these that I learned the real beauty of language. I began reading them when I was eleven. They became my salvation when I was twelve. I'm certain that given my age, there was very little that I truly understood, but I was mesmerized by their narratives and read them repeatedly. A dictionary sat next to me as I read--these were not words introduced in fifth and sixth grade vocabulary. I fell in love with the authors. They were more real to me than the stories they had written. I would sometimes imagine that they were my friends, keeping me company when I was consumed by sadness after the episodes of abuse in my life. I remember telling Henry David Thoreau (as we walked in the mountains behind my home) about how much it hurt inside after my cousin abused me. He nodded and agreed that was a very difficult thing, then pointed out how lovely the wildflowers were that day, and together we caught and held a tiny frog. And one time, Shakespeare and I identified cloud shapes in the sky as I suggested to him that, while his tragedies were certainly worthwhile and interesting, I much preferred his comedies and sonnets. He agreed with me.
While I realized that none of the authors wrote their stories for me, imagining that they had done so helped me live through many days. I'm quite certain that when a story is being written, the last thing on the author's mind is whether or not an abused little girl will cling to those words as a lifeline, and thank a God in whom she no longer believes, for the man or woman who penned them. Regardless of their past cognizance, someday I hope they know. They touched my life and sustained me in a hopeless time. And while my life is only one of many, and I am no more remarkable than anyone else, I think it's rather amazing that they were able to reach into the future just for me. I know--they didn't, really--but I still intend to believe it.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
And now I'm going to shower, because doing all that twisty, stretchy yoga stuff makes me sweat more than running--what's that all about???
By the way, I have no idea what the title of this post has to do with its content.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
My students thought the moth was beautiful, and immediately dubbed him, "Fred", after deciding that in a class 100% female, we needed a token male. Fred was well-behaved and didn't fly around until after we were finished with class. I caught him, took him outside, and set him in some flowers. He flexed his wings for a few minutes, then flew away, as good as new.
How many times does that happen in a music history class? Never say my teaching methods are not innovative (even though the moth had nothing whatever to do with the subject being taught).
Yesterday, however, for whatever reason, I found myself discussing a person for whom I've recently felt attraction, with another friend. It was odd, and I don't know why I even brought it up. I don't feel a need for encouragement--I've been dealing with this long enough that I know exactly what to do. I don't feel the need to build common ground--my friend and I are way beyond that. I don't need advice...while I'm sometimes tempted, I also know what I really want, and I have it. Temptation is normal. I have no idea why the words came out of me.
me: Today was an interesting SSA day.
Friend: Wait, explain the interesting ssa-ness.
me: Of all people, I thought you'd understand. Aren't you a struggler?
Friend: but you don't usually struggle with SSA. I, on the other hand should just resign myself to the evergreen support group and post on D2
me: I didn't say I struggled, I said it was interesting. So, I've worked with a girl, J, for three years now--and in several different circumstances. We're good friends. But it would be easy to cross lines with her, and I think it's because she's sending out very strong signals that I keep ignoring. She says she's bi-, and she knows I'm married, I think...maybe not...actually, I'm not sure. Well, that could answer some questions, right there.
Friend: That's awkward.
me: So you probably wish I hadn't brought this up, but now I'm glad I did. She and I have something to talk about tomorrow.
So now I'm left with a sort of unusual conversation (for me, anyway). However, I will talk with J if she continues to go out of her way to solicit responses I'd rather not experience, and that could be interesting.
I suppose this proves to my friend that I'm very, very human. Somehow, I can't imagine that this is earth-shattering news.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Oh, I just have to add: I slept last night. Finally. It was very difficult getting to that point and I'm firmly convinced that sleep should never be such hard work.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I asked to be relieved of two of my classes. I've never done that before. I just feel that given my trouble with sleep, I need to not be so involved this year. I'm also not performing a solo recital this year. I'm trying not to feel that I'm failing. It's difficult.
I have six return students. They asked if they could study with me privately this week. I suggested they take lessons from Lydia, who is head of the piano faculty. She said she would take most of my private students. So I have only two this week. Lydia saw me for the first time in a couple of months today. Usually I get a "You're too beautiful. Why aren't you a lesbian?" comment. This time I heard, "Samantha, you look like sh*t! What's going on?" Yeah, it was lovely.
I don't feel that I'm making any progress. I'm trying different strategies. That's all I have to say, I guess.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
I know...this is whining...I don't want to go...
Someday, when I'm resurrected, I think I'll be a ladybug.
My mother decided to joing me last night. I told her it might not be a good idea. She ignored me.
This morning she called Adam, asking if he could come help her. It seems she's somewhat immobile and can't lift anything.
I've been told I never listen to anybody, which isn't true. But if it were true...I would come by it naturally...
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
The flip side is that, while I want others to love me (I think), I'm much more comfortable when my love is not reciprocated, verbally or otherwise. I'm fine if I love people who don't know who I am and who feel nothing for me. So I've been thinking about what that means, and I think I've figured some of it out.
1. If my love is one-sided, I never have to worry about vulnerablity. I'm the one who has feelings for the other and I'm in complete control of the situation. I don't have to worry about whether or not the other person will stop loving me, because they don't in the first place.
2. I don't have to decide if I'm worth loving. The point is moot because it doesn't exist. That leaves me free to feel however I choose, without anyone else's feelings complicating the situation.
3. My independence is left intact. I don't have to work on a relationship/friendship because there is none. You can tell me not to love you, but I'll do as I please, regardless.
4. If the recipient of my love never expresses love back, I don't have to wonder if he/she really means what is expressed--or if it's just an aesthetically pleasing response.
I suppose what I've realized is that loving people with abandon, but not wanting that love returned feels natural and free to me--and it leaves me protected and in control. I like that.
Tolkien Boy might argue with me that there's no satisfaction in such relationships. Satisfaction is not what I'm looking for.
I also realized that while I feel safe and strong in this situation, when someone does express love to me, it gets into my heart and overwhelms me a bit. And while I feel exposed and scared by such feelings, I also feel sort of grateful that person cares about me, and I want that to continue.
Ick. This is such a weird post.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
I'm back at square one with the nightmares. I have to accept help and start doing my daily/nightly work to be able to control what I see. I've been putting it off, or just going through the motions because the person I need to help me is also the current agressor in my dreams--which really sucks. So...I let myself hit rock bottom. I did the debate about whether to take the medication which will repress my nightmares for the rest of my life. Then I realized that if I don't at least try to work through this, I will regret it, and I'll be left with the memory of a nightmare I really wish to change.
So starting this morning I began to lay the groundwork for dream direction. I'll work on it the rest of this week. I do lots of writing, and visualization. I've spent hours talking with Tolkien Boy, trying to reestablish the trust threshold that's been destroyed by the stupid nightmares. I'll be doing meditation before bed (along with a whole lot of prayer). If the pattern follows my first attempt at this, I'll be exhausted for the first couple of nights, and then it will get easier. And I'll stop making excuses to not accept help, swallow my pride and take what's offered because it's not forever, and I will become stronger because of it.
I just wish I didn't have to go through all the crap I put myself through before I can become humble enough to realize I really can't do this by myself, and even if it makes me the most needy person in the world, sometimes I just have to accept that I don't have super powers. It would be nice, though...
Wish me luck? Pray for me? Light a candle? Cast a spell? Hey, as long as I'm accepting help--I'll take it from whatever source it may come.
Monday, June 4, 2007
That I can't seem to erase
I'm trying. Each day I move closer to coming to terms with the things I've experienced. Each night I'm reminded I have more work to do.
How can I be the only one
Without a smile on my face
Except--I am smiling--I always smile. But not inside. In that place I'm screaming and I don't know how to let it out.
Well now, you're laughing out loud
At just the thought of being alive
And I was wondering
Could I just be you tonight
Please? Just for a night. Tomorrow I'll be me again, but maybe I could have just one night of rest.
You show your pain like it really hurts
And I can't even start to feel mine
Because every time I try, it overwhelms me. I can't ignore it any longer, but I'm too afraid to allow myself to feel anything right now. For awhile I was doing well with this, but then it became too much, and I'm right back where I started from. I'm beginning to realize this will never end--and that someday I'm going to have to figure this out.
Well, I'm standing in place
With my head first and I shake, I shake
Because it seems too much for one person to do. Because I don't think I'm strong enough to live with the aftermath of someone else's choices and actions. Because deep down, the authentic me never made it beyond the horrifically frightened eleven-year-old who is still wondering what the hell happened.
I see your progress stretched out for miles and miles
Forgive me for being envious. Forgive me for wishing to be more like you. Forgive me for feeling helpless and discouraged.
You're laughing out loud
At just the thought of being alive, yeah
I want to do that.
And I was wondering
Could I just be you tonight
Just tonight. That's all. No nightmares. No sadness.
This is the sound that I make
These are the words I chose
I don't know what I really want to say. I'm trying to understand everything, myself, still. I'm starting to believe I'll never really know what it is I mean.
Somehow the right thing to say
Just won't come out
Just won't come out
I'm just tired, I guess. It's difficult to be articulate when one isn't sleeping well.
And you're laughing out loud
At the thought of being alive
And I have to say, it gives me hope to see you happy. That stupid optimist inside keeps telling me that someday I'll feel the same way--I just have to keep moving forward. Your laughter brings me joy. In spite of everything, I laugh with you.
And I was wondering
Could I just be you tonight
Just for one night. One night of restful, recuperative sleep. One night of no fear. One night when I'm not abused and left alone. One night when I can just rest. Please?
*Thanks to Matchbox 20 for their lyrics, and for keeping me company last night.
2. Blog. Be aware that all blog entries written after 3:00 a.m. will sound slightly insane.
3. Go jogging.
4. Take a drive. This is especially fun after 1:00 a.m. because all the stop lights become blinking yellows.
5. Contemplate doorbell ditching the entire neighborhood. Then recall that you're no longer a teenager and the neighbors are less likely to laugh than to call the police.
6. Lay in the grass and stargaze. Think about how the stars would look if arranged in symmetrical stripe patterns across the sky.
7. Wish there was someone to talk to. Talk to self, instead. DO NOT CHAT. Anyone awake at this hour will be going to bed soon, which you will find terribly depressing.
8. Tell self a fun story. Enjoy one's creativity and cleverness. Remember that the story will be much less entertaining to people who actually sleep.
9. Tell self funny jokes. Laugh hysterically. Quietly, of course. Other people are sleeping.
10. Wish for sleep. Wish for no dreams. Above all, do not cry.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
(Sex Drive Commentary by Regina Lynn)
Naughty, But Only on the Internet
It's a cliché that on the internet that no one knows you're a dog but everyone suspects you're a man. And as the joke goes, the hotter the female avatar, the uglier the man at the keyboard.
But during my first same-sex experience in a chat room online, everyone in the room knew we were two women having sex.
It was closest I have ever come to having sex with a woman, and until that point, I would have told anyone who asked that I was 100 percent straight -- certainly no more than a .5 on the ancient Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale. I had no interest in women at all, not even in my fantasies or in porn.
We began a little performance for the men in the chat, each of us wondering whether the other would chicken out.
As our game played out, something shifted. My mind sharpened. My sense of "being there" increased. And my body began to respond, just as it did when cybering with a male. But just as I accepted what was happening -- she cut it short with a private message: Stop, I'm too uncomfortable.
I've lost count of how many times I've seen similar themes played out online, as people discover inner sexual resources they didn't know they had, often by accident. We go online to try one thing, like group sex or shoe fetishes, and end up finding fulfillment in something else, like strip Scrabble. Or we seek a compromise between real-world relationship commitments and sexual needs we can't ignore.
One Sex Drive reader said in an e-mail that he'd been married for several years before realizing he was bisexual. The internet offered a place to figure himself out without forcing confrontation or premature change in his marriage.
"I used Second Life as a means of therapy (for lack of a better word) to explore the homosexual side of me without breaking the 'rules' of my marriage," he writes.
It took about a year for him to recognize that he wasn't in need of relationships with men after all. "It wasn't about another male per se but instead a male body I enjoyed," he says. "Now, gay pornography suffices. I don't have to negotiate emotions and feelings -- I can just passively watch."
It's surprising (considering how many men feel physically ill at the thought of unknowingly flirting or cybering with another man) how many otherwise heterosexual men I hear from see no conflict in same-sex activities online.
Another tells me that his only physical same-sex encounter happened in high school more than 40 years ago, but he has cybered with both men and women in the past five years.
Will going online to get around societal prohibitions about sex, and then learning it's no big deal, transform America into a more sexually tolerant culture overall? Ask me again in 20 years.
But I won't discount the importance our individual experiences have in our lives right now, not just for ourselves but for our immediate circle. How wonderful for a teenager struggling with sexual identity if his father understands. How much more comfortable for co-workers when they realize you care more about the quality of their work than the sex of their partners.
That first bisexual encounter had a profound and lasting effect on me. It was disconcerting to have my sense of who I was sexually turned upside down, especially since I had entered adult chat to figure out what I liked to do with men. It never occurred to me I would end up having sex with a woman -- and liking it enough to respond physically, and to feel its premature end so sharply.
It would be an exaggeration to say that I'm now bisexual, although I am equal opportunity for flirting and online play. And while I have felt genuine physical attraction to a few women since that chat opened my eyes, I certainly have no interest in developing a same-sex romantic relationship. (I know exactly how much trouble women are!)
But I did reach a deeper understanding of sex as a connection between humans -- one in which chromosomes do not figure as prominently as I had thought.
It seems to me that the part of cybersex that attracts the most criticism -- the absence of touch -- is the part that gives it such potential to deepen our understanding of sex. It's no bad thing to set aside our bodies once in awhile and just be people, no matter what our plumbing looks like.
"I think these measures (like the Kinsey scale) are inherently flawed," says erotica author Nobilis, a man in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship who believes an erotic scene only works if you get turned on while you write it -- even if you're "straight" and it is "gay."
"There are sexual experiences I seek out, others I avoid, and others that I'm only somewhat interested in," he says. "Gender is only one of many considerations for any given experience."
Friday, June 1, 2007
Tolkien Boy shared this quote with me from one of the many writings he was grading. I thought it was beautifully fatuous, yet regrettably compelling. Kind of like staring at a horribly ugly painting while a museum guide tells you all the reasons one should love it, although perhaps fine art, no matter how hideous, is too sophisticated to be used in comparison with my choice of quote.
Which reminds me, I have a favorite artist. The surrealistic paintings of Rene Magritte have always fascinated me. This one makes me laugh:
I have always held that one should never identify too closely with another person. As I become older, however, I find myself drawn to Virginia Woolf. We have interesting similarities, some speculative, others factual. Virginia was sexually molested by her half-brothers, and suffered emotional breakdowns throughout life. She was sexually more interested in women than men, but married her husband and remained with him until she died. She had no children, so many speculate that the marriage was never consummated. I have often been fascinated by her words to and about her husband. In her diary, she once wrote:
"Love-making — after 25 years can’t bear to be separate ... you see it is enormous pleasure being wanted: a wife. And our marriage so complete."
There's no question that she deeply loved her husband, and he returned that love. He watched for emotional and mental breakdowns and cared for Virginia throughout each episode. In her suicide note to him, Virginia wrote:
"I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been."
The interesting thing, to me, is that Virginia Woolf considered suicide selfish and pointless. And yet, she was able to devalue her life, based on qualifying the effect her life had on one she deeply loved. I understand that. More than understanding, I identify with that. There are so many times, when I remember how Darrin has taken care of me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I wonder about the quality of his life. I worry that my needs have overshadowed his to the point that he rarely has his needs met. I wonder about "spoiling" his life. I feel helpless, knowing that there is so much I lack, and I completely understand Virginia.
Following his wife's death, Leonard Woolf fell in love with a married woman, Trekkie Parsons, who juggled her relationships with her husband and Leonard, dividing her time each week between the two men. She was 39, Leonard was 61. Their love letters are now a published book.
Why do I wonder about this. My story is my own. But Virginia haunts me.
"I understand Nature's game -- her prompting to take action as a way of ending any thought that threatens to excite or to pain."
"What is chastity then? I mean is it good, or is it bad, or is it nothing at all?...In my opinion, chastity is nothing but ignorance--a most discreditable state of mind...It is as unfair to brand women with chastity as with unchastity...Some of us haven't the opportunity of either..."
"It is the object of life to produce good people and good books."
"The beauty of the world, which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart assunder."
"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end."