Therapist told me, last time we spoke, that I have all the tools I need to stay healthy, and I've learned to use them correctly. He said this has been true for more than a year, but he knew I needed support and encouragement because I was going through a great deal of difficulty. Translation: I have abandonment issues and Therapist didn't want to add to those by telling me I could deal with everything on my own. Looking back, that was a very good idea. I think, had Therapist stepped away from me when my family and several friends were already doing so, I might not have weathered the storm very well at all.
But now that I'm declared able to care for my own emotional well-being, I don't really know what to do. I feel exposed and a little bit afraid. It's not like I can't call Therapist if I need help, it's just that I won't be seeing him regularly--which is equally silly, because I've been seeing him about every six months, which really doesn't constitute regular visits. Still, there's something a little bit daunting about knowing the person I'm supposed to turn to in times of emotional stress is Me.
So today I am reminding myself why I'm capable of the task of taking care of myself.
I was neglected and abused by my mother who taught me that I was not an important part of our family--or of anyone's life, really. The message I received from her was that I was ugly, belligerent, and stupid. I am none of those things. I never was. She was wrong. She has since owned her actions and apologized many times for her wrongdoing. Still, tiny ghosts sometimes whisper the words I heard as a child. Part of having PTSD means that those words interfere with my relationships today. I assume that's why some people leave. It would be difficult to be close to someone who often has doubts about their ability to love, their importance to others, and their own self-worth. Sometimes I have those feelings. I don't always manage them well. I'm working on that.
I was molested by three different people and raped by one. This has made me feel fear toward others on a regular basis. I have felt it for close friends, my husband, and my children. For a long time I refused to acknowledge that fear, I just left when a situation or person became uncomfortable. I don't do that anymore. I very much wish for long-term, close relationships with my family and spouse, and with a few people who choose to stay in my life long-term.
I have an eating disorder that is mostly in remission. Sometimes it troubles me. I suppose the largest residual effect is that I believe I am very fat. I have a sister who reminds me that a size 4 is not fat. She says I am definitely not skinny--I look healthy and fit. Still, when I look in the mirror, it's difficult to silence the voice that finds all my flaws and tells me if I lost weight I would be beautiful. For any person who has read my blog, this might be news. I've denied for a long time that I suffer from typical eating disorder symptoms. Recovering from this disorder has been the most difficult of all that I've experienced. Denying the way it affected me was simply one more tactic to keep it alive and well. I need it to stop being problematic, so I will no longer deny that, while it may have begun atypically, what I experience is very normal for a recovering anorexic. It has been many years since the disorder left me emaciated and near death, but I still find it lingering beside me whenever I encounter stress. So--I will be honest about how it affects me, and one day I think it won't be bothersome anymore.
I suffer from panic and anxiety. These kick in when I begin to feel that people don't want me anymore, which in turn, leads me to act needy, or combative, or just unpleasant. I feel, in those panicked, anxious moments, very much at the mercy of the people in my life. I feel alternately used and abandoned by them. And then, when I am sane again, I feel terribly ashamed. I don't yet know how I will manage this particular problem, but I own it. On days like today, I just believe I will end up an old lady, living in some quiet forest in Northwest Territory. On good days, I remember that most people who love me are just a phone call away. I've not been able to summon the courage to call them in the last few days, but I'm trying to remember, and that's a good thing. Someday, maybe I won't feel like this anymore. Maybe I'll end up an old lady with grandchildren and good friends.
I have integrated splintered aspects of me. There were a few months recently, when I felt the need to dissociate one more time. I didn't. I was confused and shocked at how painful it was to remain Samantha. I was even more confused at how very much I did not want to be me. The steps I took to remain whole were unpleasant and unwanted, but I did it anyway because I believe it is healthy and important. I also don't want to lose the memories I've reclaimed, nor any others.
I have PTSD. It factors into everything I've already mentioned, but adds an aspect of unpredictability to it all, and intensifies every obnoxious feeling. I've recognized this includes positive and negative emotions, so those that often should be bonding and delightful become stressful and annoying. PTSD infiltrates nearly every part of my life. However, I am learning to cope with it. I have a feeling that there will always be some times when I will be better at coping than others. I still believe, though, that one day I won't be bothered by PTSD anymore.
Today is a difficult day, but not an insurmountable one. Therapist is right--I possess the management and coping skills necessary for me to take care of myself. There's just a lot going on--some of it is difficult and some is chaotic and some is just inopportune. But tomorrow will be better. I've never stopped believing this.