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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"...when I am happy, a sparrow's chirp is delicious to me. But it is not the chirp that makes me happy, but I that make it sweet." ~John Ruskin

About eight years ago I decided to be me. I thought it was time to allow other people to know me. It seemed a good time to start sharing the person I have been and the one I will become. Prior to this, I had been whomever best fit a given situation. I would change on cue to allow the person or persons in that situation the best experience possible--as long as they knew nothing about me. What I learned from this was that people are largely self-centered, they're perfectly content to talk about themselves as long as I continue to show interest and ask questions, and they don't have a problem with me coming into their lives for a brief moment and disappearing when the moment is over.

But I took a good look at myself and I thought, "I have a great deal to offer. I have a good heart. I'm supportive. I'm funny. I'm happy most of the time. I think people would like me if I let them know who I am."

Then I thought, "But why would I do that?" And I could come up with no good answer. So I decided to try it and see what would happen.

I started online with people I had never met and never intended to meet. I cultivated friendships with many people and eventually wished to meet some of them--which I did--and it was a wonderful experience. With all of them, I allowed knowledge of my history and let them know about my family and current life, but the core of myself remained hidden.

Since that time, I have allowed a few people to know the person I am, the fears I possess, and the things that make me happy and sad. There was beauty in that experience and for awhile I felt it was okay. I'm not sure I feel the same anymore.

I missed out on a lot of "growing up" milestones, emotionally. For about a year, when I was eight, I had a couple of friends that felt bonded with me forever. But I was eight. And then my family moved far from those friends and that experience never happened again. I stayed in touch with one of those friends, and eventually roomed with her in college. What I found out was that, while she still cared about me, I was not as important as the friends who had been present in her life throughout high school, our interests had diverged, and eventually our interaction has centered around a one-sided Christmas card exchange (she sends me one every year, but I've not sent Christmas cards since 2010, when Tabitha's behavior became exhausting and I was unable to do anything but the most necessary tasks).

During the course of the last eight years, I've again formed close ties with a few people. But the bonds are fraught with insecurity on my part. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love the people, I adore talking with them and sharing my life with them. I hate feeling that I'm vulnerable to them, or that we could drift apart, or that I rely on them--that's the part that causes me the most stress.

Sunday was an eye-opener to me. Darrin and the kids were not home. Darrin was out of town and DJ, Adam, and Tabitha were spending time at church and with friends. I was by myself for the first time in months and I didn't have my cell phone which stores the contact information of people who will allow me to call when I'm having distress. And I was having a great deal of distress.

I am frustrated when I think of how difficult that day was. By evening I was a complete mess. I was berating myself for ever believing I could build a support system of "people". I knew better. I'd become weak. I didn't know how to depend on myself anymore. I was dissatisfied with the coping tools I'd assembled. I wanted to talk to a REAL person and I felt I wouldn't be able to handle the onslaught of emotional crap I was experiencing without that. And I sort of hated everyone for being unavailable, which was completely illogical and unfair.

Today, when I am rational, I keep thinking about that day and how painful it was. I don't want it to happen ever again. I'm certain the circumstances will present themselves in the future, but I don't want to feel at the mercy of whomever I might ask for help--who is living life and who needs to not be interrupted by the blips of my own life. I want to recognize that support systems don't always work as desired, and have a plan B for those times. Or maybe I need to make those support people the Plan B, and rely on myself, only resorting to Plan B when I absolutely have to.

I'm reminding myself of these things:

1. It was kind of brave of me to reach out to other people; to tell them who I am and invite them to share my life. However, they share when they please and are not available to me always. They are dealing with priorities and events and people--the things that are present and immediate. I am not one of those and it is unfair of me to believe my crisis timing will match their availability timing.

2. There is one person in everyone's life with whom they share themselves. Darrin is my person. Sometimes, when he's gone, I have difficulty. But he is always coming back and he always wants me. No one else feels the same way. Other people have their "one person" with whom they share their love and their lives. When I'm overwhelmed, I have been known to forget this and ask for help anyway. I need to not do that anymore.

3. I'm capable. I'm strong. I can take care of myself. These are important to remember. It's good to seek help from loved ones when I'm having difficulty--but not essential. I will be okay.

4. There must never be a time in my future when I feel I cannot function or make it through difficulties without the help of someone who loves me. Never. When I know how to manage on my own, the pain eventually eases. I identify the source and take the steps necessary to alleviate it and move forward. When I feel a need for help or comfort from another person and it does not materialize, I am flung backward to that time in my life when a little girl felt alone and abandoned by people who actually SHOULD have cared for and protected her.

But I am not a little girl anymore. I am completely able to deal with situations that pop up, I know how to care for myself, and I don't need to be protected anymore. Relying on others when I'm feeling overwhelmed makes me vulnerable to the belief that I am unwanted, burdensome, and annoying. I don't believe I am any of those, but my self-worth dwindles to the point that there have been times when I have felt no more desire to live. Perhaps that's cowardly. Perhaps I AM a coward. I don't know. But I do know that what happened Sunday cannot happen again. Help from others needs to be an option but not a necessity--delightful when it happens, and fine when it does not.

My exam yesterday did not go well. There was a great deal of problematic emotional crap that came afterward. I was fortunate that Tolkien Boy was online and could talk with me about it and I feel much better today. But I think that will be the last time I look for help in the moments that feel devastating. Because today I feel that I took too much of his time, and I said more than I should have, and when we spend time together, we should talk more of happy things that aren't centered on my personal flaws and malfunctions. I don't like feeling that way and I see no purpose in obtaining momentary relief, only to have other complications come when I start thinking like a real person and recognize that maybe I overused my friendship rights.

Still, I'm working through the "stuff" that has come up in the past five days. And I WILL be all right.

Also, my mammogram was normal and I am physically very healthy. I've been on a medication to stabilize my blood pressure, which has been fluctuating wildly since my reaction to the flu shot, and the low blood pressure moments are now becoming a regular thing for me, rather than the high spikes, followed by a drop to very low, and then stabilization just under normal, so my doctor thinks I should discontinue medication in month and see what happens. I'm all for that. Medicine and I do not get along well.

And now it's time for physical therapy.  My life is fun.  :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Today I am breathing again...and completely, horribly embarrassed. The aftermath of a simple mammogram was much greater than I had anticipated. Yesterday I was a mess. If I called or sent emails, please pretend I did not. Fortunately, none of the people I contacted was able to answer so I don't have to apologize for panicking or crying in their presence. And while processing the emotions by myself was unpleasant, it won't kill me and I've done it before. In fact, I used to be very good at that alone thing. I've become soft.

This is one area where Therapist and I vehemently disagree. He says it's not good for me to be alone when I work through emotions linked to being raped. He tells me it increases my belief that there is no one who will be present in my life and help me when I need it. I believe relying on others when the pain belongs only to me, is weak and wrong. And I know I'll get through whatever presents itself, however messy it might become. Therapist will tell me I should have called him. I'll remind him it was Sunday and he would not have answered anyway. He'll say that I've been working on not being alone when I'm vulnerable, that I'm working on trusting the people in my life, that this was a small step backward. I'll remind him it was Sunday. People rest on Sunday. And besides, I did try. No one was home. And I was okay.

So today the spontaneous crying has eased. It's still hanging around, but it's not as frequent. I'm still a little nauseated because of the intense panic I felt yesterday, and I always feel nauseated after panic attacks, but the panic has yielded to anxiety which means I'll feel at odds with life today, but not immobile. And I don't feel lonely or in pain, emotionally. A numbness has taken their place which will allow me to rest and catch my breath and think logically until this whole "thing" is over.

I'm hung up on the flashbacks. Part of me is insisting they never happened because I want desperately to reach my 3-year mark, free of flashbacks. I don't know why that seems so incredibly important. I've always known that, given the proper circumstances, I might have flashbacks again. I think I felt really powerful when they left--like I did something to make them go away because I'm that amazing. I don't like admitting it was probably a random fluke and my luck just ran out.

The flashbacks were tiny.

There. I just admitted they exist.

But they were tiny and they happened while I was driving and I didn't wreck, so that's a good thing. And I had some control, which hasn't happened before. I remember slipping into the past event and my brain saying, "No. I'm not going to do this." Again and again this scenario repeated itself--I don't know how many times. But I was on a mile-long stretch of road, and the flashbacks stopped trying before I reached the end of it, so the process took place fairly rapidly.

I feel incredibly disappointed, which is probably silly. I had a lapse. That's all. And it was tiny. And I recovered. Still, the disappointment and sadness persist. I feel I've failed somehow.

I think will take an inventory of the small improvements that have come with today:
1. I feel I can leave my house. That was not true yesterday--and I stayed inside the entire day, which is very odd for me.
2. I have energy to work and do the projects I had planned for today.
3. While I don't feel up to talking with anyone, I think that will happen by mid-July. Although I have to be at a social function this weekend, so I'll put on my happy face and be pleasant while I'm there.
4. While I still feel a huge need to protect myself, I don't plan to cancel my physical this week. It's important.
5. I don't feel like smiling, but I think I will today. And maybe I'll laugh. Those things are important, too.
6. I'm reminding myself that this isn't forever. In a week or two I'll feel less sad, and while I might still feel lonely, it will be something with which I can cope.
7. In these times, it's difficult to feel love or to believe I am lovable. Therapist says I must always remember I am loved. Today I can't do that, but I think tomorrow I'll work on that.

And I have to keep reminding myself that this small setback came with a tiny triumph. I'm taking care of my health--I'm taking care of me. I'm doing the things I need to so I can stay well, physically. And I  wasn't able to do that for many years. So in the end, no matter how bad I feel, I think I win.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Mammograms are really sort of a gift. You can either catch something early or count your lucky stars because nothing was discovered." ~Charlotte Ross

Yesterday I had a mammogram. I know. Big deal. Women do that annually after age 35 as part of their well care.

But you see, I've never had one. And I've not had a physical since Tabitha was two. I have a lot of fear about being touched.

So for seven years I've worked with Therapist to reach a point where I felt I could have those important things become part of my life. I've made many, many appointments--and canceled them when the time came. But I didn't cancel this one.

You know, mammograms and physicals are uncomfortable, bordering on painful. But for someone like me, the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, they're vital. I started thinking about how I feel when Darrin insists he can't use a Cpap machine, which could improve his life drastically and, ultimately, keep him alive. But it's uncomfortable. It interferes with his sleep. He doesn't like it. He'd rather die???

It makes me panicky because I'm the one who notices the repeated cessation of breathing for up to thirty seconds. I'm the one who feels his abdomen cave in as he struggles for breath. I'm the one who deals with his moodiness, lack of energy, constant napping, and gradual but constant health decline. And I'm the one who moves to the couch because the snoring is so loud my own sleep is interrupted.

I started thinking about how my family feels about my irrational fear. I won't take part in preventative medicine because I'm scared. I have a higher than normal a breast cancer risk. I won't get the tests done that could facilitate early detection and remission because I'm scared...I'd rather die???

I'm guessing there is no one who loves me who, in the event of late-stage cancer detection, would say, "It's okay, Sam. We understand that your fear put your life at risk. We're all right with you taking that risk and it's okay that you're going to die, probably." Nope. I can't see anyone making allowances for my fears when my life is on the line. And it is. This is something I need to take seriously.

When I was tired of being afraid of the person who raped me, I went to lunch with him. It was yucky and I don't want to do it ever again, but I'm not afraid anymore.

So yesterday, I went to the hospital, stripped from the waist up, used a baby wipe to remove any traces of anti-perspirant which would interfere with the imaging process, donned a gown large enough for several people to share, and waited my turn. When I met with the tech who would be doing the deed, she asked me several questions, then asked if there was anything else she should know. I found myself saying, "I'm afraid. I have PTSD because I'm a rape survivor. I've never had this done before because it can trigger all sorts of messy emotional side-effects and I don't want to deal with those. But I'm here. I'm doing this. And I might cry, but it won't because the process is hurting me and it won't have anything to do with you, so don't worry, okay?"

She said, "This is really important for someone with your family history. I'm glad you're here. Let me know if I can help you through this."

And then we went to that hateful machine where she danced me into the proper position, lifted my breast into an impossible angle and let me know the compression plate would stop when the light went on. And it didn't feel nice in the least. We did it three more times in three more positions and then I was done.

On the way home, I felt the flashbacks coming. They were very specific in the memory and content, and it's possible that I actually had them because I know what they looked like, but I'm going to say, instead, that I was able to avert the fullfledged version of flashbacks because in six weeks I will have been flashback free for three years, so I'm not counting whatever happened on the way home. Anyway, it felt nasty, but nothing like what I've felt in the past when flashbacks occurred, so they weren't the real deal.

And when I got home, I sat in my driveway and cried because I'm a coward who can't even have a routine health process without feeling violated and overwhelmed. And I also cried because I get to do it again in 12 months--not a happy thought for me.

But I did it. I think that's something. And Therapist says I rock and he's proud of me.

...Don't say anything at all.

I wrote my last post when I was feeling a great deal of anger and frustration. It is not unusual for me to do this on my blog, and the process of doing so often helps the anger disperse so I can see with greater clarity the larger picture. Most of the time I believe this is a very helpful tool and it has become habitual for me to come here when I feel frustrated or helpless in a given situation.

I should not have done so in the situation I described in my previous post.

I received an email from one who was involved in the same dinner party. My friend expressed hurt and anger that I had aired my upset here--in a public place--rather than addressing it personally with the people involved. And he was correct.

I should have discussed the problem in the correct place with the people involved because while it might be common for bloggers to air their anger and frustration in their private blogs, that doesn't mean it's right, and in doing so I put my friendship with someone I love on the line. And I was wrong.

My friend further explained that the things I saw were not what he saw and that I had judged swiftly, harshly, and wrongly. While I don't agree with his viewpoint about what happened during the conversation in question, I do agree that I was unkind in my portrayal of the person with whom I was angry, and judgmental, and I had very little information upon which to form that judgment. Again, it was wrong of me to do so.

Tolkien Boy once told me that something he admired about me was that I don't make snap judgments about people. When they seem unlovable I manage to love them, and I'm always willing to give people, not just second chances, but many, many chances because I believe all people deserve love and respect. Tolkien Boy would be deeply disappointed in me.

So today I wish to say that I take responsibility for my wrongdoing, and ask forgiveness of those involved. Perhaps, one day, we can grant each other a second (or a third...fourth...fifth...) chance.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"To be normal is the ideal aim of the unsuccessful." ~ Carl Gustav Jung

When I work with a family member or friend on a therapy assignment, my contact with that person usually happens after I've laid all the groundwork in place. In general, I've spent six months or more on myself, or my part in the assignment, I've done a great deal of research, and I have only to lay the last piece in place in order to finish what I began. That final piece usually involves asking questions of another person, or discussing something between us that causes me stress, or requesting a change in our relationship (usually just a minor one). As a result, the person involved hears about the difficulty I'm trying to manage at the end of the assignment. They're usually completely unaware of the work I've been doing and I usually don't tell them a great deal about it, but it provides the illusion that I identify a problem, talk with the person involved, and instantly solve whatever difficulty has presented itself. I'm amazing.

Example: Integration of Tolkien Boy

The problem was identified months ago. The first step I take is to look at the depth of what has happened, figure out what might have triggered it, and find all the tiny details that might need changes made. In the case of TB, there were large details (i.e. my feelings about the two entities which had to be identified and catalogued--this took at least three weeks), and smaller ones (for instance, I'd replaced all online pictures of real-life TB with the most obscure ones I could find--they were taken at least seven years ago and didn't look at all like TB today).

Once the detail identification was finished, I took care of any small changes that could be done immediately (easier said than done--my guts did not want ANY changes made--I spent a great deal of time arguing with myself: "Sam, you have to do this." "I don't want to. I like things the way they are." "No you don't, you hate them, that's why we're here right now, trying to fix what you messed up with your subconscious." "I still don't want to." "Do it anyway, Sam." "Fine, but I hate this." "Me, too."), and listed the ones that might need more lengthy work.

The tasks that needed more time were then further subdivided so they didn't seem overwhelming and, bit by bit, I hacked away at them, doing the necessary emotional exercises to force me into reality.

There is a reason I dissociate. It's because sometimes reality sucks.

Eight months later, I had finished the miserable work of undoing the dissociation, and I had accepted that I'm a freak, and I had sort of put TB back together--but not really, because the last step needed him in person and he lives a million miles away from me.

Tolkien Boy loves me, I think, because even though he was a newlywed, and exhausted, and leaving early in the morning for his honeymoon, he stayed up with me into the wee hours of morning, allowing me to talk about the problem, and ask questions, and telling me his thoughts, as well. If he doesn't love me, then I have no idea why he would do that, and besides, I prefer to believe that he does because being loved by Tolkien Boy is a priceless gift, and if I'm going to be delusional, I like that delusion so much better than the dissociative one I created earlier.

The truth is that my life right now is still really difficult. The insanely desperate part has eased and I'm left with a huge mess to clean up--emotional, physical, name it...if it exists in my life, it's a mess. That's hard to wake up to every morning. And all the support people in my life who are physically present are somehow involved in that mess; either they've presented me with new problems that need my help (like DJ having surgery and being unable to drive and limited in his ability to care for himself), or they are as deeply responsible for the problems as I am (like Darrin, working extra hours in the hope that we can pay off at least one debt before the year ends), which means they're all emotionally depleted, as well, and very tired, and not really a great deal of support.

I'm actually not sure where we all go from here.

I was speaking with Ambrosia last night, expressing disappointment that I'd allowed the transferred dissociation to happen. She said it seemed like I expect myself to be perfect. I don't, though. I just want to be normal. I don't want to feel much of what motivates me to seek out unhealthy coping. I feel badly when my deficits affect my loved ones. And let's face it, I'm still very afraid that those staunch friends, however few, who have stayed by me through the horrible mess of the past couple of years, will get tired of me and leave--especially when I do freaky things that affect how I feel about and act around them.

Normal. It seems I'm always shooting for that and missing. But there are so many days when I realize I'm an anomaly in nearly every part of my life and I just want to be unremarkable.

This is such a weird post.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I spoke with a friend last night. We talked far too long and went to bed in the wee hours of morning. As I lay in my bed, trying to put off sleep with its accompanying nightmares, I realized how terribly ugly my life is. Jagged trauma scars rip through what I wish was beautiful, interrupting the peaceful landscape I would create. I don't seek out the disruptions. Drama and discord are not appealing to me. They find me anyway.

I want so much for my friend to have a life filled with predictable joys, seamed by tiny challenges which seem insurmountable in the moment, but which mend themselves with time and disappear beneath the larger picture of daily life drifting into nights of dreamless sleep. No doubt there will be difficulties which mar the picture, but I desperately hope her life will not ever approach the hideous darkness of mine.

We spoke of the challenges of raising small children, yearning to spend moments with them as they quickly grow, while wanting so much to have a separate self-fulfillment. We talked of the fear that someone might harm those children due to non-vigilance or misplaced trust. We discussed the reality of anxiety and depression and the subsequent difficulties due to those.

At one point, probably because I was tired and it was long past midnight, I broke my code of silence. I disclosed details of my past. I talked about my not-quite-twelve self, sitting on the floor of the bathroom, cleaning up my own blood and someone else's semen, not understanding what had just happened and reeling with the pain--physical and emotional--of my deeply scarred world. I told her of the loneliness I felt as I wrapped myself in a towel and rocked myself, wishing someone safe would hold me while knowing no one would come.

I told her about the fatigue, years later, of watching my daughter trying to end her life and the desire to be released from my living nightmare even if it ultimately meant my daughter's death. I recounted a night in the hospital emergency room, when I climbed into my daughter's bed with her, held her close, and whispered how very much I loved her, told her she was the most beautiful person I knew, and said I was honored to be her mom. And I meant it. I didn't know why she was so sad. I had no idea why she was harming herself--why she wished to die--but I could never be ashamed of her. She was a bright spot in my life even during the most exquisitely painful moments. Today my daughter doesn't remember that night. She was too overwrought and distressed. But I remember it. I will never forget.

I talked of being molested by strangers who followed me into church bathrooms, seeing I was unattended and taking their moment to harm me. And suddenly I realized how inappropriate it was to share the ugliness of my life with her--with anyone. So I changed the subject and shortly thereafter, went to bed.

I want to be the woman who fights with her mother and feels overwhelmed with children and sometimes is frustrated with the husband who might not always be supportive. I want to complain about work and the weather and the cruise I can't attend because of the family reunion taking place at the same time. I want to have car troubles and worry about what we'll have for dinner. I want to feel upset because my house isn't as clean as it should be or because a neighbor offended me. I want to be a regular person.

Instead, I live in labyrinthine ugliness. My life is repulsive, unimaginable, horrifying. As I try identify with and understand the problems spoken of by others, I feel a desperate desire to have those problems, to live a similar life, to rid myself of the unbelievable horror of my own.

I feel tremendous shame when a friend talks to me of problems that feel real and overwhelming in his or her life, then stops, takes a step back, and reminds me that my problems--my past--are much worse than the current topic of conversation. I feel frustrated. I didn't choose the things I've lived. I would have prevented them, had I the ability to do so. And even though my life is monstrous, I still wish to converse, to talk about everyday challenges, to pretend, just for a moment, that I'm like everyone else.

I once read that to open your heart to someone means exposing the scars of the past. I think whoever said that has not met a person like me. I try to open my heart--then I run in as quickly as possible to protect whomever might see the spectacle of my lifescars. I try to explain that while my life is scary, I am not. I say things are okay and they are safe from me. Then I retreat and in my alone time I wish for something different. I wish for a time when I will not feel I have to protect people from knowing who I am and what I have experienced. I wish for someone to look long and hard at my jaggedly scarred life and tell me I'm okay--and they're strong enough to touch the parts that cause me to ache, and such an experience will not harm them.

Probably that can't happen, and tomorrow I won't care as deeply. Tomorrow is always better.

It seems I am feeling sorry for myself today. I think I will allow myself a few more moments of self-pity, and then I will take a shower, do my physical therapy, and take a walk outside to see how many blue flowers I can find. My life, however ugly, cannot mar the fact that our world is incredibly beautiful. And maybe later I'll call another friend and we won't talk about me at all.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I was talking with Tolkien Boy yesterday about the phenomenon of wanting to be someone different from the person one is. He understands, a bit, what I'm speaking about. Probably most people do. But I'm not talking about accepting sexual orientation or accepting personal faults and weaknesses. I'm not speaking of learning to accept and love the person you are and whom you will become.

I realized not long ago that each morning when I wake I'm faced with resolving the nightmares that have come in my sleep, knowing that many of them are real, and telling myself that I AM that person. I'm the one who was abused and raped. I'm her. And this is important because if I don't go through this process, I tell myself it never happened and for one day I live in a delightful fantasy. According to Therapist, this is a coping device that is normal but not healthy, and I am ready to become the person I am. Most days I agree with him, but after several nights riddled with terrifying, sad, gut wrenching memory nightmares, it's difficult to feel happy about it.

As I continue forward, I constantly discover little things I've done subconsciously. They're not necessarily sabotage, although in the end, they serve to do that, but they seem to be one last effort of mine to cling to past coping devices. When I stopped self-harm, for instance, I found that I was burning or cutting myself more often while cooking, without realizing I was doing so. It was, Therapist told me, my body's way of maintaining the status quo and would, with time, decrease. And he was correct. While I still get burned occasionally, it seems to be more of what would be expected when one uses a hot oven and not a ritual that serves to relieve emotional pain.

Recently Therapist spoke with me about another problem I'll be correcting in the near future. It seems that while I was working on integration, I moved the impulse to fragment to one of the people closest to me, emotionally. Tolkien Boy has become two people in my mind. The person online is a different entity than the corporeal one. I feel differently about each of them and they represent different things to me. It's a rather difficult situation to explain, and one that makes me feel beyond crazy. I KNOW they're the same person, my brain comprehends that, but somehow, they're not. TB online looks different from TB in person. I feel separate feelings for each of them. They are two people to me.

Transference is a common thing, especially when one is under emotional stress. Part of me, however, feels enormous guilt for allowing this to happen. I understand it was beyond my control and I had no idea it was happening, but it still feels horribly shameful. It's caused a bit of stress for me this week as I've been spending real time with TB. Therapist had mentioned that the dissociation had happened, and while I knew he was correct, I didn't really believe it. Then, a couple of days ago, I sent a chat message to TB while he was sitting next to me and he replied, and I realized, in my mind, there was another person talking to me.

This sounds incredibly stupid and crazy so I'm going to stop trying to describe what's happening. I'm guessing no one who has not experienced it can comprehend what I'm saying anyway.

The bottom line is I'm feeling that no matter how hard I fight to overcome the crap in my past, it keeps reaching out and trying to destroy healthy, loving relationships in my life. And I'm tired. I don't want this to keep happening. Giving up/giving in sometimes feels like it would be a wonderful thing. I won't, but I want to.

Anyway, next job--integrating the Tolkien Boys. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

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.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tabitha graduated on Friday. Because we weren't sure that her credits would transfer in time, no one was invited. DJ and Adam were already scheduled to work, and by the time we got word that Tabitha had been added to the program and she would be allowed to march with her class, it was too late to change anything.

So Darrin and I went alone. My mom was on the other side of the state for my nephew's graduation the night before. She called me five minutes after the commencement exercises began and asked where we were sitting. Apparently, she decided she WOULD be at Tabitha's graduation, understanding all that my little girl has been through. She drove seven hours to get there. I can say whatever I want to about my mom's actions in the past, but I can never fault her for trying to do better--to be better. Even now, when her mind is failing her, she often surprises me with her ability to be loyal and compassionate.

I watched my daughter walk in with her class--no honors tassels or collars in spite of her 4.0 GPA. Tabitha didn't live here during the time when all those honors were bestowed and they weren't offered where she has been living for the past nine months. But in my mind, she deserves them. I watched her work nearly ten hours daily, trying to make up the credit hours online that she wasn't enrolled in this year. She was determined to graduate. And the truth is, she finished all but .5 credits necessary for graduation last year. The things she worked on for the past two and a half weeks made her eligible for a very large scholarship. But in order for her to march at graduation, everything had to be complete by May 29th. 

So she worked. And had meltdowns. And screamed and cried when the passwords for her online tests didn't work. And she was angry at the administrator who could have enrolled her in the classes during her last year of school, but who declined to listen to Tabitha, or me, or Tabitha's former school counselor--or anyone. The school year was a mess, and Tabitha returned home three weeks ago with 2.5 credits not yet begun.

I'm still not sure how she finished. It was more work than I want to think about. 

So Tabitha walked with her class, and shook hands with the state officials sent to our graduation, and played all night with her friends, and no one has any idea what that little girl has been through. Probably every parent believes their child has a unique story of courage and achievement and they're very proud to see them graduate. 

And after all "this" (which I suppose is representative of a few years that have been incredibly painful and sad), I feel tired. I don't remember the last time I laughed because something was incredibly funny. I don't feel like celebrating anything. In fact, yesterday I believe I slept most of the day away. I can't seem to stop sleeping. I understand this is a problem, because it means in about three days I'll have insomnia that will last awhile, but my whole body feels an emotional pain that overwhelms me. I don't know where it's coming from, so I have no idea how to manage it. So I sleep.

Our house is chaos again. Tabitha has yet to organize her room, throw things out, and make a place for all that she brought home with her. DJ accepted our invitation to move back home and save money to return to college. This actually turned out to be serendipitous for all of us because about 10 days ago he injured his knee badly enough to need surgery. That will take place on Wednesday. As he's at home now, it will be much easier to help him through his recovery time than it would if he were still living in his apartment. And it's nice to have him here. DJ is a lovely person--even when he's injured.

So we have a full house. I think we will all reach the point where we've adjusted to this, about the time that DJ decides he's ready to leave again. And if Adam can ever figure out how to budget his time and money, he might be able to live on his own, as well. Tabitha wants to live at home for at least a year. That feeling might change as she watches her friends leave for college and move into their own apartments. 

Life feels transient and odd right now. Unfortunately, that affects my interaction with others. I feel a great need to spend time with me, making sure I'm doing the things I need to feel emotionally healthy. Therapist says these are the times I need to reach out to others, to interact with them. There have been many times when I've listened to him and followed that advice. Today, I'm too tired. Reaching out seems needy and pointless. And I will admit that I have have had more times lately when I've wondered why I'm reaching out in the first place. Probably I'm just not noticing, but with the exception of Ambrosia, no one seems to reach back to me. It's an odd feeling, but one that has been hanging around for more than a year now and I have arrived in a place where I no longer care. 

Tolkien Boy would tell me this will pass. Somehow, I don't care about that either. Maybe someday I'll care again--yearn for closeness and intimacy with other people. It seems like a lot of trouble for nothing right now.

Okay--done talking.