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Monday, April 29, 2013

When the water backs up...

We've had plumbing issues for a week. After dumping gallons of environmentally unsafe chemicals down the offending orifices, we finally called a plumber. He's coming today in about fifteen minutes. My regret: It's not George, so I can't ask him if he'd like to pay me to be his answering service for all the wrong number calls we get.

Ah, well...chances are our pipes will back up again someday and maybe when that happens, George's Plumbing will be the business of choice for our landlord--which means opportunity will be knocking for me. Yay!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Spring has been a long time in coming. This week I noticed leaves on my currant bushes and the grass is no longer brown. I'm busy, as I usually am, with additional rehearsals and performances that come with this time of year.

I didn't teach this school year. I will do so in the fall. When I look back at the past seven years, I realize that while I went on a journey to discover myself, nothing has really changed. I still have anxiety problems and panic attacks. I still have no idea how to navigate people or relationships. I don't know why the people who are present in my life continue to stay. But I suppose at some point most people take a good look at who they are and learn to accept that person. I have done this. I don't like it. There are so many things I wish were not a part of my past. It remains to me to decide how I will live in the future.

I can walk again. I thought, for a little while, that I wouldn't be able to do that again. With Therapist's help I have learned to recognize pain. It's not something for which I'm grateful, because I'm in nearly constant pain now, but it's real and it belongs to me.

For awhile now I've been reliant on other people to help me through emotionally difficult times. That has to end. I choose now as the time to work toward independence in this area. I have often said that people are beautiful and wonderful, but the have lives that take precedence over me, and while I believe that is appropriate and right, there are definitely times when I wish I didn't have to be alone. However, being alone won't kill me. One thing I have learned after all that has happened in my life--I will be fine.

As I see signs of springtime approaching I wish I had a plan or a goal for this year. I don't. Recovery takes precedence over wanting to DO things. And I don't know what will happen when Tabitha comes home. I'd like things to be better, but there really is no guarantee that they will be. Also, Tabitha has chosen to have my brother contacted and notified that a report against him has been filed. I can't even speculate about what he will do to retaliate. I suppose it doesn't really matter. If he becomes threatening or dangerous I will file a restraining order against him, my family interaction (such as it is) will become  infrequent if he is invited to gatherings, and life will go on.

I have moments now when I am happy again. I believe those times will multiply simply because that's what I want to have happen. And if it doesn't, I'll live with what occurs. It's difficult to feel anything about this.

My life has not unfolded as I planned or as I wished. Still it's mine and I'll take it as it is--there really is no other choice, and I'm okay with that.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." --A.A. Milne

There are days when I feel I'm really starting to get on top of things again. Then I have days like today.

There are a bazillion boxes waiting to be unloaded. They were packed more than a month ago so that we could have paint. They remained packed so that we could get carpet. They are still packed.

It's not like I don't need the contents. I've been teaching in a studio without the resources I usually have. I just say, "Okay, I'll look for that (whatever it is I need) during the week and have it for you at your next lesson." But it's been two weeks and the boxes remain packed and I made the same promises again this week. I did make progress. The boxes are now out of my spare room and reside in my living room.

I'm sitting at my desk surrounded by paper. All my organizing stuff is also in a box. And I have no excuse for not using it. The box is 24 inches from my right elbow just waiting for me to unpack and get organized.

It just seems overwhelming.

However, I did pay bills today--except for the gas bill because the site was down. I'm hoping it comes up today because I'm not sure I'll be in billpaying mode after 24 hours have elapsed.

I have to say, though, new carpet is very nice and definitely worth the hassle. And Darrin hasn't started hanging pictures yet, which makes Adam and me very happy. We love bare walls. They're soothing.

Maybe tomorrow I'll put the books back on the shelves. Or the next day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sometimes I sweat when I run...does this make me less feminine?

Also, I ate the last of my chocolate Easter bunny for breakfast because I wanted to. It was made of Lindt chocolate which means it is appropriate breakfast food. And while I'm talking of food and chocolate, Kozy Shack makes a lactose free chocolate pudding that I was living on and loving until I came home from Utah and found it completely gone because Adam has been using it for tortilla chip dip. Sigh...I can't have anything nice.

There is a car in our neighborhood very similar to the one we purchased for Tabitha and Adam to drive. It's a 1985 Toyota Tercel (hatchback, red). I'm pretty sure the only two running specimens of that particular make and model live in our neighborhood. However, they aren't twin cars. Ours is a four-door, and the other is a two-door. This is not a readily apparent difference when one is passing each other, unfortunately, and to the consternation of the two-door owner, Darrin and I wave enthusiastically each time we see an ancient red Tercel approaching us. We are, after all, supposed to be embarrassing our children at every opportunity.

Today, as I drove home from the gym, drenched in sweat with really great hair, I saw a red Tercel approaching me and I waved with gusto, as is my tradition. I noticed that the poor boy who drives the two-door, now ducks a bit and refuses to look at me as I pass. This causes a bit of concern as he turns completely sideways to avoid looking at me and often swerves all over the road. So far we've only met in the sparsely trafficked neighborhood in which we live, but I have no hope for a jogger who might be in his path as he pretends I don't exist.

So when I got home I called Adam to have a powwow:

me: Adam, will you be offended if I don't wave at you when I see you driving?
Adam: Mom, don't you want to go shower?
me: Yes. Shall we continue this conversation in the bathroom?
Adam: NO!
me: So? Will you?
Adam: Will I what?
me: Be offended?
Adam: You woke me up to ask me that?
me: It's 9:30 a.m. That's hardly the crack of dawn.
Adam: But I was sleeping.
me: Yes.
Adam: I think you should go shower, and I should go back to bed.
me: Does that mean it's okay if I don't wave?
Adam: I won't see you anyway. I'll be asleep.
me: While you're driving?
Adam: What are we talking about?
me: I have to admit, I don't really know anymore.
Adam: So can I go?
me: I suppose so.

I'm very glad our communication improves after noon.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April is the cruelest month...

Especially where I live. April can never seem to decide whether or not to allow the warmth of springtime to seep into the world or to blast us with one more blizzard. The past two weeks, April has chosen the blizzard thing. Sometimes the wind would stop and large, sleepy snowflakes would float down. It was lovely--but I think if we're going to have this much snow, we should also get Christmas again. Today the sun is back, but it will be windy and cold.

The birds don't quite know what to do. It's too cold to nest and the snow gets in the way, but they seem very happy--and noisy! Yesterday a flock of blackbirds covered my leafless crabapple tree, singing with such gusto I was certain they were inside the house. They left when I opened the door to go to a rehearsal and haven't been back again. I'm hoping they'll visit today.

I have been riding an emotional roller coaster for too long. There are moments when I feel I'm in front of the roller coaster, trying desperately to stop its motion, only to be run over and at the last moment, flung into a seat--usually in the back where the motion will feel most intense and I can't see what's ahead. Nightmares are, as usual, fairly unmanageable. There have been moments when I've wanted to give up or give in--to just allow the feelings to dictate my life to me. The problem is that many of those emotions are old, created long ago and then ignored. They no longer have relevance. I don't feel the same way today, but the ancient memories clamour for expression still.

Today, however, I have no time for sentiment or validation of those past feelings. And, quite honestly, I'm tired of them. I've given them space and credence and allowance for more than five years. I think that's quite long enough. It's likely that for the rest of my life counterfeit emotions will present themselves. They may be strong enough to cause me tears, or make me feel at odds with life for a moment. They may interrupt my day or confuse me a bit. I may be resentful of them when they come, but I refuse to spend more time than necessary on this. I have a life to live.

A tiny bird is sitting on the rose bush near my window. Its song is a far cry from yesterday's chorus in my trees. It points its tiny beak skyward the softly rounded body quivers as the bird warbles. I wish to borrow from my visitor the ability to live in the moment, to sing because that's what I wish to do, and to allow that song to fill my whole body until it quivers with sound and joy.

Dear PTSD,

I've learned much from you over the past few years. Now it is time for you to learn from me. You came to me uninvited. You may stay as long as you behave yourself. If you misbehave, I will train you to act differently. You are a part of me, but you are not me. I will live my life as I choose. You might disrupt that life occasionally, but understand this: Interruptions are rude and unwelcome and will be dealt with swiftly and quietly. Please feel free to enjoy our time together, but remember your place. You are a byproduct, not major part of who I am and I have a great deal to do with the rest of my life.


My life has been as Cruel April for awhile--spots of sunshine and warmth, interrupted by unwelcome storms and frigid temperatures. It's time to prepare for growth, to leave behind the parts that keep me painfully shivering. I'm ready for the flowers to bloom.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes..." --Frank Lloyd Wright

I have two friends. Each of us has a daughter near the same age. Each daughter has spent time in an extended care facility because of suicidal depression brought on by bullying and other childhood traumas.

And today those young ladies are alive.

I don't know what the rest of their lives will bring. As parents, none of us will enjoy retirement--those funds, carefully put away to provide for us when Social Security will bring in an income that places us in poverty, have gone to pay for the $10,000+ per month price necessary to keep our daughters alive. I was able to procure help from the church when we were sunk so deeply in debt that we had no other option, but even that came with an extremely high emotional cost as Tabitha was required to endure more testing and interviews with people who wouldn't accept the years of medical records as evidence that she was in dire need. And for awhile there was talk of rescinding the funds after two months because that was determined to be the amount of time necessary for her to become whole. Had the funding been rescinded, I have no doubt that Tabitha would not be alive today. It was only after twice that amount of time that she was able to divulge to her therapist that she had been molested by my brother.

I spoke with my friends recently. None of us cried. No one bemoaned the lengthy, agonizing, horribly painful days of wondering how to care for our distressed daughters. No one talked about the emotional toll the experience had taken or how we still deal with our own extreme anxiety.

My daughter was present during the visit. We watched her talking, smiling, just being beautiful.

My two friends and I have nothing to offer one another. We are completely spent. Only understanding and sympathy remain and we feel dreadfully, incredibly old and tired. Our husbands stood next to us, sharing their own brand of exhausted empathy.

So we smiled and laughed a bit because what else can you do? Then we talked about how people ask about our daughters and we smile proudly and tell about how they've been working so hard to get better--and they ARE better--and we're very glad for that. But no one asks about us. No one wonders how we survived trying to support and help our daughters as they cut themselves up and tried to kill themselves. No one talks about our nights of wondering what we did wrong, or begging for help from a family member who told us everything was fine--she was just a difficult teen, or being so exhausted we wished for our own lives to end.

The final truth is that our daughters are alive--and they will continue their lives in a society that is sick and decayed. One in which children are allowed to brutally batter each other physically and verbally and emotionally until they finally end their lives before they've lived even two decades. One in which adults use children sexually and then discard them, and sometimes the children use other children in the same way because they don't know how else to express the anger and frustration and confusion and pain. One in which, statistically, our daughters' daughters (and maybe their sons) will be bullied or raped or harmed in some other way by people who should be protecting them and helping them learn to become healthy, well-adjusted adults. And no matter how much people like me try to keep that from happening, in the end, unless we keep those children with us 24/7--nothing is 100% preventable. And it is healthy for no person to be in such an overprotected situation.

I don't know what to do with that truth.

My blog is now read by my dear friend, Ambrosia, and two Google bots, so what I say next will reach none but them. But maybe Brozy will tell someone who will tell another. And maybe the Google bots will find one person browsing blogs who will read this and share it with someone else--so I will write the following words today and hope they will help someone:

Take care of your children as if they are the most precious gifts you have ever been given.

Cherish the moments when they try your patience and have embarrassing tantrums in the store and scream every time you strap them into their car seats.

Remember that you don't know everything about the lives of family members and trusted friends. Check on your children frequently, even when you believe they are safe.

Teach your children that you are strong and that nothing they tell you will hurt you--even if someone scary threatens you or them if they tell. Teach your children that you can protect them. Help them understand that if someone does something to harm them, the first thing they must do is tell you, and if/when they do, make certain they understand the steps you are taking to remedy the situation and make them a part of it. If the event was traumatic, don't be silent. Remind them regularly that the danger is past and that they are safe. Don't ever let them forget that you are there for them.

Tell your children daily that you love them. Hug them. Read to them. Give them snacks. Make sure some of those snacks have chocolate in them.

Take your children outside. Show them the grass, butterflies, make pictures with the clouds. Talk about the good things bugs do. Help them see each unique snowflake shape. Climb trees and roll down hills with them. Sing songs and teach them poetry.

Make cookies with your children and let them eat some of the dough because that's the best part--especially at the beginning before the flour is put in, when it's just brown sugar and butter and vanilla.

Let your children know that you appreciate them. Help them make good choices, set healthy boundaries, and deal positively with disappointment. Celebrate who they are and look forward to who they are becoming. Give them age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. Help them learn self-esteem as they learn to care for themselves independently.

I know. Who am I to dish out advice? My daughter lives in an extended care facility, so clearly I am not the world's success story when it comes to parenting. But I have one more tidbit left to impart.

Understand when a situation has exceeded your ability to provide help and support. Recognize that sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Believe that you must always do what is best for you and your child, even if that means allowing someone else to teach her the things you wish you could teach her yourself. Let her go, even if you miss her like crazy--because that might make the difference between her life or her death.

Finally, before passing judgement on another parent, reach out a hand to help. You never know. You might be giving them hope when they believed none was left. You might be allowing them to rest for just a moment. You might be allowing that parent to remember they're human and sometimes bad things happen, but they're not alone.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I started this blog a very long time ago. And before this blog, there was another one. And there were many in-between. Each blog served a purpose. I don't know exactly what that purpose was, but Therapist does.

Therapist believes that these blogs of mine served to assuage my need to fragment. Even though thinking of this makes me cringe and ache and want to scream, I know he's right.

I have spoken a few times about dissociation. I understand it's a necessary tool for many who experience extreme trauma. I have never viewed myself as one who experienced extreme trauma. I lived in a household where I often felt unwanted and where abuse happened, but I wasn't molested by my father, I don't carry physical scars, and who can say if emotional abuse is extreme trauma. I've never believed it was. It made me unhappy. There are worse things than unhappiness.

I was molested as a child by strangers. It happened twice, that I remember. The first time I was so young that I barely remember what happened and I don't attach any feelings to the incident. The second time I was almost 8. I remember it vividly. I acted appropriately. I screamed and kicked and ran. More traumatic than being molested by a stranger was the feeling of abandonment by my father as he ran to take his anger out on the man who touched me. So I wasn't held or comforted. None of this is extreme trauma.

I had a cousin who touched me inappropriately when I was nine, and later raped me when I was not quite twelve. I think that was traumatic. It caused me a great deal of distress over a long period of time. I became depressed. I had moments when I wished to die. But I lived and I grew up and I became Samantha--and in becoming Samantha, I left behind the person I had been. I became fragmented.

Time and therapy have shown me that this was not the first time I had allowed that to happen. I suppose that's where my confusion comes from, and perhaps my shame. I don't understand why the other times happened. They seem minor in comparison to the abuse experienced by so many other children. I wonder if I was born unbalanced and the slightest discomfort tilted the scale into insanity. I see the need for others to use the dissociation coping mechanism. I find no reason for me to do so.

When I research it I feel overwhelmed by shame and defiance. I don't understand where those come from. I want to feel happy that I was able to experience some success in integration. I want to look at what happened and say, "It's okay. Clearly I needed something to help me live, and this did the trick." But in the back of my mind there is a voice that says, "Hey, Sam, don't you think you're overreacting a bit? Isn't dissociation a little extreme? Maybe you're crazy and none of this is real, after all. Maybe one day you'll wake up and you won't remember anymore." It's a little upsetting. It's more upsetting when a second thought comes unbidden: "I wish I could forget."

I don't know what I want to forget.

I have spoken briefly of the mass exodus from my life by people who used to have interest in me. These include close friends and family members. I suppose I have only one thing to say about that: I don't blame them. I suppose that's what dissociation is all about, really. Leaving someone behind because they have become (or their lives have become) too difficult to cope with, and I completely understand why people leave. I wish I could leave me, too.

But Therapist says I need to remember that I have other ways to cope now. Healthy ones.

I remember. I don't want to, but I do. And I'm not having extreme trauma--perhaps I never have--so I don't need to leave Samantha behind. I need to be her even when it hurts.