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Friday, February 29, 2008

Four Years Ago

I didn't blog.

I was afraid of anyone male over the age of 14.

I was a chronic overachiever.

I was a workaholic.

I was an exercise fanatic--running and weigh-lifting.

I was a teacher in the public school system.

I was a guest lecturer for the university.

I did not have nightmares.

My only social contact outside of my family took place at work.

I read books incessantly.

I always got enough sleep.

I ate three healthy meals daily.

I never became emotionally involved in anything or with anyone.

I loved my husband and children with all the energy in my body.

I did not travel alone, I rarely shopped by myself, I wouldn't dream of spending a night without Darrin.

I was afraid. Always. I didn't know why.

I could not remember my life before the age of 16.

I never talked about myself.

I didn't bother anyone. Ever.

Some things change. Some things do not.

Happy February 29th.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Friendship Mantra (subject to change when I'm feeling less fierce about it)

I thought that I would write no more about my agony over relationships. That's what I get for thinking.

In the past...

I assumed everyone in the world would like to be my friend, and naturally, they would love me. I've spent many years observing people, watching what attracts them, learning to negotiate conversations and preferences. I've learned the fine art of listening, asking leading questions, making appropriate eye contact. I know when to be assertive and when to withdraw.

It's not manipulation. It's survival.

Because inside I'm well-aware that people would be extremely uncomfortable with the little girl who was raped repeatedly, abused by her mother, attracted to other women...

I know that if I tell you that I work thousands of hours, that I'm a musician, a financial adviser, an editor, a tax won't see the person running from reality and hiding in the comfort of just one more job. You'll assume there's something special about me that makes me able to do many things well. You won't understand that I must do those things, I have no choice. To not work leaves leisure time, remembering time, sad time...and I'm finished being sad.

It's not talent or intelligence. It's survival.

And now people know. And, honestly, I'm okay with that. I've been hiding for a very long time. A few people have stayed much longer than I thought they would. But I can't quite kill the belief that one day they'll be gone, because I'm not meant to have people who will stay.

It's not negativity or believing in the worst-case scenario. It's survival.

I've mentally and emotionally allowed everyone to leave. It's okay if they don't call--that's the expectation. It's okay if they only contact me at Christmas--I planned for that. It's all right if they go away and I never hear from them again. Because if it's not okay, that means I might need them, or perhaps I just want them to stay. That would mean inviting someone other than me to be a part of my life, and I'm afraid of that.

But yesterday...

I decided some things.

I don't want to be the lovely person who puts everyone at ease all the time. And if that means some people don't think I'm wonderful, well, that's okay.

I don't want to work forever. Someday I want to be able to relax and think about the good things. And if I don't remember, just for a moment, the things that have hurt me, I think that's okay, too.


If my friends get lives and decide maybe they don't have time for me anymore, or they decide I'm too much trouble and they want to run away from me, or they decide they don't want to call or chat or email anymore...


I've decided. If you're my friend, we're staying that way. If there's a problem, I expect that you'll come talk to me about it. And if you don't--THAT IS NOT OKAY!! If we need some space, that's fine, but if you don't come back--THAT IS NOT OKAY!!

I'm finished living in a shell. I'm perfectly all right letting you know that you're important to me, that I want you in my life. And I don't care if you don't love me back, but I plan on loving you forever, and I think it would make us both happier if you love me, too. And by the way, I'm very vocal about how much you've impacted my life, how you've been available to me when I needed someone, how you've supported me as I've changed, but guess what!! I think I've done the same for you. And I don't care whether you agree or not. If I've done nothing to help you live your life in a positive, healthy way, then our friendship is unbalanced, and THAT IS NOT OKAY!! So if I'm wrong, and I haven't done those things, I expect that you'll allow me to do so, or, basically, we're not really friends.

That's all. So if you're my friend, and you have something to respond (negative or positive)--well, I've provided a comment section for you. Please--respond away...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dear Adam,

It is not acceptable to put the peas and pineapple in the same container when you clear the table. And if you ever want to rotate to a different job, you'll stop telling me all the reasons those two items belong together, and you'll separate them before their flavors co-mingle. Also, putting the lid on the saucepan and leaving it in the garage is just gross. I have no idea what that food used to be before it became furry.

Yes, you get to take care of it.

Yes, it's okay if it makes you throw up--after all, if you're flushing the furry food down the toilet, you're in the proper place to barf.

I think you may need to work on your table cleaning skills for perhaps one more month.

No, this is not negotiable.


Dear Yahoo,

You are stupid. I should not have to log out and then back in again to get my email. That is all.


Dear Sam,

In order for it to actually count as a meal, you have to eat it. You can't just make it and leave it sitting on your plate because you forgot to eat it. Now it looks nasty and is all cold. I suggest you throw it out and eat a piece of toast instead. And don't leave it in the toaster.



I love Google Talk. I like being connected with people. Sometimes I can't chat, but I'm online (usually working) and it's fun seeing the dots light up, even if they're red. It tells me someone I love is awake and living, and that makes me smile. Sometimes, even when my red dot is on, someone I care about will say hello, acknowledge that I'm busy and let me know it's okay not to respond--they just wanted to let me know they were thinking of me. That makes my day feel wonderful.

This morning I noticed Google Talk had an "invisible" option. So I've been trying it. I've been online and invisible all morning. Then I started thinking, I'm sure this is a nice option for someone who's looking for a particular person to come online, but doesn't necessarily want to talk to others. So when the Awaited Chat Buddy (ACB) comes online they can talk uninterrupted. Then I started thinking, what if the ACB does the same thing? Then they're both sitting online, waiting for each other...forever...and they're like two ships that pass in the night (are you weeping yet?)...

But maybe most people are more organized than I am, and they actually email each other and say: "Hey ACB! Let's talk today. I'll be the invisible one this time. You got to do it last time, remember?"

I'm not sure I like this new option. I have a feeling I'll be spending too much time thinking, "I'd sure like to talk to .... I wonder if he's/she's would be a really good time to develop the see-who's-invisible-superpower."

So--I suppose if you're on my chat list, and you start getting multiple emails that say:

Are you there???

Are you invisible???

I can't see you!!! Talk to me, PLLEEEEAASSSSEEEEE!!!!!

You'll know then that I'm not coping well with this new feature. I'm hoping Google develops one soon that says "Invisible to everyone except Samantha because she can't cope with wondering whether or not you're online". Probably they won't, though. The name of that feature is far too long.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yup...that was stupid...

Apparently, if you have a cavity for three years (or possibly longer), and you don't go to the dentist because you're a dentist wuss, the cavity can become something worse.

So, now I have "something worse." I'm not sure what the exact name is, but it involves an infection, incredible pain which extends upward into through my cheekbone into my eye socket, laterally across my upper and lower jaws, and downward through my neck, ending at my left clavicle. Interestingly, my shoulder joint began to hurt, as well last night.

So I called my dentist last night, who sort of asked why I waited so long. And I confessed that I was a dentist wuss because I hate flashbacks in the dentist chair--mostly because I'm afraid I'll throw up on the guy with his hand in my mouth. He thanked me for telling him, phoned in a prescription for an antibiotic and a pain medication and put me on his list for an emergency appointment in case of a cancellation (my current appointment is scheduled for the last week of March). But all the pharmacies were closed so I have to wait one more hour before getting my prescriptions. I have every kind of pain killer I could find in my medicine chest residing in my body. I hope I don't die from mixing medications or something (I am so glad The Great -L- is too busy to read this!).

In the meantime, I couldn't sleep, so I watch the sun rise this morning. It was gorgeous. Even extreme pain can't keep me from enjoying that!

However, I'm not sure if I'll ever eat again. My mouth is too sore, and I keep throwing up whatever I eat (not sure how the pain killers have managed to stay down). Hopefully, this will be better tonight. I have lots of work to do.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I had a dream last night in which I was met by AtP, Sully, Tolkien Boy, and Jason. Each of them told me they had enjoyed our friendship over the past year. Then they said they had only entered my life to help me learn about love and friendship, and that now they were leaving. They asked me not to contact them and assured me I'd be fine. I don't remember feeling anything except disbelief. I made some comment about wondering if maybe there had been some benefit for them in having me as a friend? They laughed and said no.

Then Mr. Fob flew in in his Superman garb and The Great -L- rode in on a giant stethoscope and went the three of us went to lunch (I know--a giant stethoscope? I suppose it could have been worse...a giant speculum...ick).

All I have to say is--at least it wasn't my normal nightmare. And Mr. Fob and -L- and I laughed a lot before Mr. Fob had to leave to save the world and The Great -L- used his amazing disappearing power and left me with the bill.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I have three dozen roses

One dozen from Darrin for our anniversary.

One dozen from Darrin for Valentine's Day.

One dozen from DJ and Adam--for my Valentine's Day wedding anniversary.

They smell wonderful.

Full Circle

I remarked to a friend a couple of months ago, that it seems my life has come full circle. In November of 2005, one event caused the stability I'd built for myself to crumble. From that point major changes began to happen and I thought my life would never be the same. I'm realizing now, that it won't be, but there are certainly things happening which cause me to feel that life is reverting back to normal.

Things that changed after November 2005:
1. I lost a couple of my favorite piano students. They left because their own lives were becoming too cluttered and they needed time to regroup and figure things out. This was monumental for me because I have never lost a student before. I've asked some to go because they weren't practicing, or they've moved away, or they've graduated and gone to college, or referred them to a different teacher, but the situation where the student and I both wished for the lessons to continue, but were forced to stop because of extenuating circumstances has never happened to me. It was a little devastating.
2. I started talking. I was a complete listener before. I told just enough about me to keep the other person comfortable, and help them continue talking about themselves. But usually, if I was talking, it was about something I was reading, or a composer, or some trivial nonsense--entertaining but not personal. I was warm, and charming, and completely walled off from anyone who knew me. By November of 2006 I had learned how to talk about me--not just about my past, but about me right now. And I did, to whomever would listen. Years of being silent poured out of me. I used up a few of my friends in the process. One can only spend so much time hearing about another person before it drains the life out of a friendship.
3. I quit one of my jobs, and referred about 15 of my students to other teachers, leaving my studio with eight members. I did this so that I could concentrate on "getting through" with therapy in a short time. I expected it would be about four months...sometimes I am a complete idiot.
4. I told. I told everyone. I spoke with family and friends. I talked from pulpits and referred to it in lessons. I hid no longer from the acts that stole my childhood from me. At first I did so anonymously. Today I no longer worry that someone might find out that I was molested or abused. I feel no shame in that and will discuss it if I feel it's pertinent. I don't talk about it simply because a topic of conversation might be needed, but neither do I run from it.
5. I made friends. I allowed people into my life. I sought them out. I was interested in them--but also allowed them to be interested in me. I wanted them in my life. I allowed myself to feel the joy they brought to me. I played and laughed and talked my head off. I reveled in the fact that Darrin was not my only link to human emotional intimacy, and he encouraged and supported me as I explored previously unknown territory (I think it's very possible that he felt relieved).
6. I worked like crazy on learning about myself. I tried with all my strength to "finish" what I started. I sincerely believed I would succeed.

Things that have come full circle:
1. One student who left me has returned. Her life is more settled. She wants to play once again. At one point we encountered each other when our counseling visits coincided. Our counselor was mortified. We just laughed. I love teaching this student one more time. The other student who left has contacted me about taking lessons in the summer. I don't know if it will happen. It's okay if it doesn't. Just knowing that he wishes to is enough.
2. I'm ready to stop talking so much. I want to listen again. I'm comfortable learning about others and it makes me happy to do so. I'll talk about myself if I feel someone would like to know me better, but I understand that my life really isn't that entertaining. I feel badly about the time I've spent talking, talking, talking when I could have been hearing about real life from the people I love. If my friends come back, I don't want to use them up anymore. I would like to feel that they know they can trust me to hear what they say, and understand how much I care about them.
3. I went back to the job I quit two years ago. They've sent me more work than I expected, and I've been busier than ever, but I'm also having some trouble dealing with changes as my life returns to normal, so the work is welcome. I've allowed my studio to gain just a few more students, but I don't know that I'll ever go back to my previous number of around 30 students. However, everything has a feeling of familiarity which is comforting and disconcerting at the same time.
4. I'm comfortable with what has happened in my life. That doesn't mean I think it was okay, it simply means I will discuss it if necessary. I won't run or hide from it anymore. It says nothing about me--only about what was done to me.
5. Friendship remains a mystery to me. But I've come to the conclusion that most people are a little mystified by it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it leaves and no one seems to notice. Sometimes one friend gets swallowed up in life and leaves the other behind. There seems to be no way to control the phenomenon, nor do I have any way to revitalize friendships that wane. I wish I did, because, unlike those I befriend, I don't go through a "honeymoon" stage where they're delightful and I can't get enough of them, which stage later seems to change to boredom or irritation. I seem to remain in the, "Yay!! You're here! I'm so excited to be with you!" part of friendship indefinitely. I watch people become accustomed to me, notice that they come back less often and seem less than enthusiastic when I appear in their lives, and I wonder why this is so baffling to me. The good thing--I don't have to do anything. Time seems to decide the fate of every friendship.
6. My therapy was not finished in 4 months. I've been told it will continue throughout my life--not weekly or monthly, but with annual checks to be sure I'm managing the PTSD successfully and helping in case of triggers and relapses. Not the happiest prognosis for me, but I'm living and breathing. That's a good thing.

Over all this hangs a feeling that life has returned to the way it was before. I'm calmer. I don't feel the need to search constantly for answers. I simply want to run and work, and play with my kids--and anyone else who wishes to remain in my life. That's the one thing which has changed forever. I welcome people. I'm no longer afraid of men--even the straight ones. I'm not protecting myself against hurt--it will happen simply as a part of life--and I'll be fine when it does. I want to be with others, to feel who they are, to hear their stories, to let myself love them.

Perhaps, even if nothing else changes, this will make it all worth it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

To be your lawfully wedded wife...

I suppose it's to be expected that if one places something on public display, there will be feedback. I never believed that my marriage would be considered remarkable in any setting, however. I was wrong.

I suppose I've always felt that of everything that has happened in my life, my marriage is one of my greatest achievements, something to be cherished and protected, and a source of joy and security for me. I assumed, as I always do, that everyone in the world agrees with me--how could they possibly view me and all aspects of my life, in a different light than I view myself? Again, I am completely wrong about this.

Since my first blog's inception, I have received countless emails and comments rendering various opinions and viewpoint--most all of them agree on one thing, however. They are confused about how my marriage has survived this long. I've been accused of:
1. Creating a fictional masterpiece--this blog is about things that never happened.
2. Living a life of denial.
3. Betraying my true self and my sexual identity (and in doing so, becoming an enemy to all who fight for the right of same-sex marriage).
4. Not realizing how unhappy being in a mixed-orientation marriage actually makes me. In fact, most of the angst I now experience (and blame on past abuse) would evaporate and I would be completely free of all that troubles me if I would just divorce and live a life of authenticity.
5. Being crazy.

I can't even begin to address those issues--and who knows, perhaps they're all true. But they are no more true that this:
1. I love Darrin. I may not love him in the way that I want to jump on him and have sex for hours--but let's face it--even people who find a person who inspires that impulse rarely act on it constantly, and certainly the impulse will fade over time. I have difficulty visualizing 80-year-olds who have the stamina to wish for marathon sex, although viagra may have made that possible. Then again, I'm not 80, so perhaps that's an invalid point.
2. I love Darrin. I'm not necessarily attracted to him physically, but emotionally, there is no other person who can draw me closer. That, in turn, translates itself into a desire to be with him in every way, which allows me to physically express just how important he is to me. I don't particularly care if that's "authentic" in terms of people who read this. For me, it's sort of miraculous and beautiful.
3. I love Darrin. He has never fettered me in any way. He never asks what I cannot give. He expects that I will always succeed, but helps me patch my life back together when I fail. He believes I can do anything. He makes me feel confident, joyful, happy to be alive.
4. I love Darrin. I came to him broken beyond belief. He didn't try to fix me, but loved the broken, difficult, trying person that I was. And he continued to love me as I grew and changed. We never run out of things to talk about. We laugh daily. Every day he kisses me and tells me that he loves me.
5. I love Darrin. He has provided absolute emotional safety for me. He has remained at my side for many years. He tells me he loves making love with me. He holds me when I'm sad. He believes I'm beautiful. He is my best friend, my soul protector, my sweet and wonderful husband.
6. I love Darren.

So feel free to speculate about how my marriage works...or perhaps if it works...for me it is the one part of my life that is never doubtful, weak, or insecure. There is no one in the world like Darrin. I am in love with him in every sense of the word. There is no doubt about it.

Happy Anniversary, Darrin. Thank you for loving me in spite of me. With you, I feel joy, peace, gratitude, and always, love.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I realized last night that I rarely agonize anymore, over the things that used to keep me up at night. In the past I would post fairly regularly about the things that happened to me at the hands of my cousin. A couple of times I went into more detail about the actual events--those posts were left visible for awhile and then removed. I suppose I felt that the information in them are not the things I wish for people to remember about me, but however briefly, I wanted it known. Often I have discussed the aftermath of abuse--what I have lived with and things I now encounter as a consequence of rape and related experiences. Those linger, and some days are better than others, but they do not go away.

So life has become a series of learning to recognize symptoms. If I notice the bothersome emotions, or identify behaviors of others which trigger them, and take steps to deal with those things in the early stages, life moves fairly smoothly as my feelings remain level. If I ignore them, I become frightened, certain that I will be betrayed or hurt, but with no logical sequence of events to validate those feelings. Their illogical basis becomes one more catalyst for paranoia and I begin to experience severe side-effects which spiral quickly out of control. It sucks, to say the least.

Lately I've noticed that my blog entries have focused on the above mentioned phenomenon. Therapist reminded me last week that I should not lose sight of the reasons those things occur. He said if I say, "I have PTSD. I'll focus on learning to manage that in my life," without remembering why I have it, eventually I'll make PTSD the villain in my life and the reasons for managing it will seem less compelling, rote, purposeless. It's not that he's encouraging me to dwell on the acts which brought PTSD into my life. He's simply reminding me that this is an after-effect of something real, and as much as I'd like to forget the real events, doing so will never help me heal completely.

I've often believed that those who read my blog will forget, in time, the real reason for it's origin. I wanted to tell the world what had happened to a sad, hurting young girl. I wanted to shout it. I wanted to tell her story--but I wanted no one to know the shameful truth that the young girl was me. I have since recovered from feeling ashamed of the acts I did not ask for. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to prevent those acts both freed and enslaved me. I was not to blame for the abuse I endured--neither was I the master of my fate. I was, and always had been, vulnerable. I have since learned to live with the fact that I was once forced to bow to another's will, but I am now grown, and I understand how to recover and live.

In the process of my recovery, I have lost the constant need to tell my story. It has been repeated more than once, in many different circumstances. I have mentioned it to friends, siblings, and loved ones. I have had opportunity to briefly recount it from pulpits and in teaching settings. I do not dwell on details, nor do I reveal that the worst aspect of the abuse was the feeling of utter abandonment, the desire to have someone love me in my wretched state, that overwhelming need to be held and touched in a loving, healthy way. Those are things most people do not wish to know. They understand feelings of anger toward a young man or a mother who misused a young girl who wished nothing more than love from them. They understand wishing for retribution or vengeance. They do not understand that my true need lies beyond this. I need simply to know that there are people who will love without hurting me, who will never knowingly betray my trust, who can comfort me when the agony is nameless.

I told Tokien Boy last night that, in time, those who have come to my blog will forget the reason for its existence. They'll remember a story I've shared about my children, or a cartoon I posted, or something I mentioned that resonated in their own lives--a conflict at work, or a gospel principle I couldn't stop belaboring, or perhaps something about a plumber or Johnny Lingo. But they won't remember that the author of this blog once sat on the bare tiles of the bathroom floor, wrapped only in a towel, rocking herself because there was no one she trusted to comfort her, confused because her body was bleeding and wracked with pain, wishing there was someone--anyone--who would hold her and protect her, knowing that the next night she would be there again...

All who read this, statistically, have experienced sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. If they have not, they have a loved one who has, even if they are unaware of it. This will always be the case until we learn to safeguard and value each human life. And so, today, I will no longer agonize over my own experience. I will allow myself to continue to heal and become whole. But I will not forget. And here is what I hope those who think of my blog will remember:
1. A shattered life is not hopelessly broken.
2. Beauty can be found, always, even in the midst of pain and despair.
3. The human spirit can be unconquerable--but sometimes it needs to borrow strength from other human spirits.
4. No one should have a broken heart before age twelve.
5. Abusive behavior can find forgiveness, but never acceptance or tolerance.
6. Letting go of the past does not mean it didn't happen, it simply means one will not allow it to continue to taint the future.
7. Sometimes, when we're ready, a loving Father in Heaven leads us to the people who are willing to help bind our wounds, hold us in their arms, or just let us talk. There is no greater way to learn that just as human beings can hurt, so can they heal.
8. Nothing goes away. Something is always left behind to remind us of each event that happens in our lives.
9. Sometimes people need to rest. Some of the greatest acts of love shown to me, are when people who care about me have shared my burden briefly, and allowed me a moment of peace.
10. When I talk only of the funny, or the beautiful, or the smoothly running machine of my life, remember how far I have come, protect the people you love, and always offer to help heal a broken heart. And maybe one day there will only be tears of joy, and no more innocent girls or boys will be left confused and hurting--wishing for someone hold and protect them. Please don't forget. Never forget.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Play it again Sam

Soprano: Sam, please play an A.

Obediently, Sam replays the key she depressed five seconds ago.

Soprano: No. An A.
Me: That was an A.
Soprano: That can't be an A. It doesn't sound like one. I have perfect pitch. You're playing something else.
Me: It's been an A for the entire time I've played professionally. Perhaps someone changed the notes around when you learned your perfect pitch.
Soprano: You don't learn perfect pitch. You're born with it. Please play an A. We don't have time for silliness.

Obediently, Sam replays the key she depressed five seconds ago.

Soprano: Fine! I'll do it myself. I don't know why they're even paying you!

She reaches over Sam and plays an A.

Alto: That's the same pitch Sam just played about a thousand times.
Soprano: It is not. That was an A.
Alto: It was the same pitch!
Soprano: She was not playing an A.
Alto: She was too!

Sam notices the time is now 3:00 p.m.

Me: I'll see you tomorrow. I have students coming in a few minutes.
Alto: It was the same pitch. Why can't you admit you were wrong?!
Soprano: Because I wasn't!
Me: Bye!

Sam walks out as the Bass and Tenor enter into the argument. It looks as though the Soprano is far outnumbered.

Ah, well, an A by any other letter...

Don't know why...

I am wearing pink today. I never wear pink.

I am wearing a shirt that was given to me as a gift by someone who believes I should wear pink more daughter.

I have always believed that pink--even the shocking kind--is simply a poor excuse for red, which I wear often in many different shades.

Red is bold, decisive, deep. It's the color of roses, blood, ladybugs...

I need the boost that red gives me. Pink makes me feel insecure, vulnerable, elderly...

That being said, I love to see guys wearing pink. First, because I think it looks good on them, and second, because it flaunts gender biases and traditions in an innocuous way.

So I have no idea why I chose this shirt today. Tabitha told me it makes her want to hug me. I hope that's not contagious.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Things of which Therapist accused me:

Okay, he didn't really accuse me, he just made observations. But I didn't like what he observed, and I'm not ready to decide whether or not it's true.

1. I seek out things of beauty because I feel peace when I am seeing/feeling/hearing them. However, there is an underlying feeling of identification when I experience those things. Basically, I view myself as operating in bursts of creativity or brilliance, then puposely allow myself to disappear.

Therapist believes I'm ready to start fading again (honestly, who thinks like that? I think it's nonsense), and he says it would be healthier for me to try sustaining the parts of me that are healing and healthy.

2. I have inserted myself into people's (friend's) lives. I have had a presence there. But I no longer feel that presence is necessary or desired, which is part of why I've been having so much conflict about relationships. I don't feel I have a "place", so I feel I must make one elsewhere (i.e. sudden taking on of many work contracts).

I don't know if I agree or disagree with Therapist on this one. It's an interesting thought, for sure. I've actually attempted to ask Tolkien Boy, AtP, and Sully about it, with very dissatisfying results. The truth is, I think they all care about me, and if it's true that there is no longer any place for me in their lives, who, really, can break that kind of news to someone they care about. Therapist emphasized that he's talking about feelings I have, not reality, and to ask someone, "Hey, is there still a place for me in your life? Do you still think about me occasionally? Do you come online, see me in a chatbox, and think--wow, she's still hanging out here--weird?" is kind of awkward. Not that I really care--I ask awkward questions all the time, but most of them have no reference to me. This is different. Therapist suggests I find ways to work through the feelings without putting my friends on the spot. I don't know that I agree with him, but that may be because I often deal with things simply by asking pointed questions--and I'm not feeling creative enough to think of alternatives.

3. I still feel a need to take responsibility for any negativity in my life. If I don't wish to shake hands with someone, I automatically feel guilt amd misery because somehow I'm "lacking". He says I don't assign blame to the proper place (i.e., I have difficulty shaking hands because it makes me feel vulnerable--because I was abused--and the person responsible for this feeling is the one who abused me).

I see no value is allowing my cousin to take the blame for how I feel now. He hasn't abused me for many years. This is me NOW. Surely I can figure out some way to get past the side-effects that aggravate me. I need to understand why it's important for me to let someone else take the blame for my own reactions and feelings, even if those are linked to past abuse. Sorry, Therapist, I'm not getting it.

4. I still don't believe I'm of worth. I'm still working to get approval--even if it's only my own. I'm still struggling with being able to accept love and believe that I am wanted.

Hmmm...maybe. There are days, certainly, when I wonder about those things, but usually they're triggered by stress or lack of sleep, and I'm able to tag them as a symptom of PTSD. There are times when those feelings seem especially strong. I'm learning to avoid people in those instances, or to turn to those who will understand that I need love expressed verbally, and who don't mind giving me that affirmation. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about this observation, and I was too chicken to ask Therapist why he feels I'm still having difficulty with it. I don't want to know right now.

That's all. For the most part, my telephone therapy session was good. We talked about the things I need to do to deal with PTSD symptoms without allowing them to escalate. I told him I'm still angry that I have stupid PTSD in the first place. He assured me that if I keep working on the symptoms, in time it will become less bothersome and easier to deal with. I don't like telephone therapy sessions, though. I don't understand why the "in-person" venue seems so much more effective, but it does.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

"In a dark time..."

“No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night."
~Elie Wiesel

I don't pretend to understand the depth of suffering that the author of that quote knew. I have never endured life in a concentration camp. I didn't watch the guards take my father to a crematorium because he had dysentery and could no longer work. I wasn't separated from my mother and sisters as a young teen, assuming they had been murdered.

My "kingdom of night" does not compare to his. But I believe each person walks through a kingdom, a night of one's own. And in walking through that dark place, one eventually reaches a point where staying is intolerable. In that moment, one chooses to live or to die.

My heart aches for those who choose to die. They didn't receive what they needed to help them choose life. There was not enough hope, or strength, or joy to allow them to see life as a viable option. They could not find those attributes within themselves, or did not know how to ask, or perhaps felt they could not ask those around them to give the aid they needed, that their burdens might be lifted even if only for one moment. Or, quite possibly, the help was there for them, but they had never learned how to accept it--never understood that the body of humankind exists to lift those who are in pain and suffering, that we might help each other as we walk through our "kingdoms of night."

Something happens to those who choose life. At some point they recognize they are not alone, that even if they feel pain, someone else feels it with them. There is hope in shared burdens, even if the burden must be carried for a lifetime. And in that sharing is often forged a bond of love and friendship which time and distance cannot weaken. There is strength in love and friendship. At some point those who choose life recognize there are things in life for which they are grateful, there is beauty to be sought after, and they, themselves are glorious human beings with extraordinary potential. There is joy in understanding that life can be beautiful regardless of circumstance.

In his book, Night, Elie Wiesel says, "I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone – terribly alone in a world without God..." I've been there. I suppose many people, to some degree, question God's benevolence and sometimes come to the conclusion that no God could allow the horrors which hurt so many of his children. I believe that questioning to be an vital act in which we strip ourselves of the theistic tenets of our childhood and youth and construct the belief system which allows us to learn and grow for the rest of our lives.

Wiesel wrote many books, poems, stories, most of which I have read and reread as I remind myself that the things which have troubled me in my lifetime are trivial in comparison to those he endured. One day I stopped reminding myself. Insead, I allowed myself to hear the words he was saying:

"In my eyes, to be a [human] was to belong to the [human] community in the broadest and most immediate sense. It was to feel abused whenever a [person], any [person] anywhere, was humiliated..."

"I have learned two things in my life; first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings."

"Man is not defined by what denies him, but by that which affirms him"

"Man is defined by what troubles him, not by what reassures him"

"I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I've been closer to him for that reason."

"Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately."

"There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win."

As I have emerged from my personal kingdom of night, I'm recognizing that I did not do so alone. Many people entered my kingdom with me, and remained with me until I had the strength to leave. And as the darkness dispels, I'm left with searing gratitude for life, for hope, for each breath-taking, beautiful moment I'm allowed to experience, but mostly for each loved-one who has been with me, if only in spirit.

“No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night." There is no question that Elie Wiesel knew personally, the truth of this statement. As do I.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Things to do in Rock Springs, Wyoming...

1. Find a hotel that doesn't look like a glorified mobile home. Make sure you pay lots of money for your room--more than you would pay, say, at New York City's finest, because your hotel owner knows your options are slim to none, and you'll pay whatever is asked.
2. Work, because you work online and you can, but also because you need to earn money to pay for that fancy room you're in. Oh, and internet connection is free--use as much as you can.
3. Eat Fritos from the vending machine because you're bored and you don't want to work right now. Don't worry about the fact that you detest Fritos.
4. Walk to the fitness room and wish you had brought appropriate clothing so you could go jogging...or swimming...or get buff playing on all those fun machines.
5. Eat mini-donuts from the vending machine. Don't worry about the fact that you hate mini-donuts, especially when they're covered with waxy chocolate coating.
6. Chat with Ambrosia online. Whine about current conditions. Wish you were going to her house tonight because she was going to make really yummy chocolate cake for dessert.
7. Eat M&Ms from the vending machine. Don't worry about the fact that you really dislike M&Ms, even the peanut ones.
8. Call Therapist. Wish you were at your appointment. Feel aggravated.
9. Eat a Butterfinger from the vending machine. Don't worry about the fact that you really don't want it. Eat it anyway.
10. Check blogs and play Scrabulous online because Therapist is supposed to call soon and you don't want to start working if you're going to be interrupted.
11. Try to eat the banana you swiped from the breakfast area in the lobby. Throw it away when you find crunchy things in it. Drink the hot chocolate you swiped, instead.
12. Notice the down comforter on your bed. Decide that a nap sounds good. Take one.

I hope the roads open soon. I don't want to live here for the rest of my life. It's too cold, and way too expensive... be continued...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Good things are happening...amazing, wonderful, beautiful good things...

Perhaps it was something Therapist said, or my hard work is finally paying off, or it's just time...


I'm sleeping. I've had no nightmares for ten days. And for the past four days, I've done no mental prep before I've slept--still, no nightmares/flashbacks. I've slept so much in the past six days. I must be catching up. And it's good sleep, real, not fitful or interrupted.

I'm calm. For the first time in many months there's no lurking anxiety, no ignored stress, no fretful insecurity. I don't feel that I have to run, I do it because I love it. I'm not smiling to hide my stress from people, I'm doing it because I like to smile.

I'm strong. I don't feel overwhelmed or pressured to continue something I started and don't know how to stop. I feel capable and ready to keep working toward whatever the goal may be--not that I know my goal yet, but when I figure that out, I'll be ready!

So many things have returned to "normal". My life belongs to me again, and that's a wonderful feeling.

This does not come without side-effects. Some of those are a tiny bit alarming. I'm not ready to discuss them yet. I'm reveling in the positives of my current situation, and I want to discuss those kind of unhappy side-effects with Therapist and see what he has to say. I have a feeling I'm not going to like what he tells me. However, for now--I'm good.

The calm before the storm? I wouldn't be surprised. Bring it on.

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's after 1:00 a.m.

This is why I should never post at this time, because I'm tired beyond reason, is a picture of why you should listen to your mom and never, never swallow your bubble gum: