Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being Authentic: A little goes a long way

I put away all my posts about Jeff and official reports and feeling stressed.

PTSD is an interesting monster. When it's invisible, unknown, it pushes and prods until I talk about it. Once it's a well-known entity, I feel able to discuss how it affects me. All this is good and healthy, right?

Once upon a time I was a person people talked to-- a confidante. I was fun to spend time with. People wanted to be with me. I think there is still a waning element of that in my life, and I can still find it if I choose to-- with strangers.

The phenomenon is that people want to know who you are. The ones who are closest peel off layers, trying to spy the reality hidden by smiles and laughter. What they don't understand is that the facade they remove is an actual reality for the person they're trying to discover. Those layers provide protection, but also a platform upon which to socialize. It's important.

Everyone has the friend who is always troubled. This begins a cycle of an outpouring of love and empathy, which moves to feelings of stress, followed by annoyance and avoidance. No one wants to be that troubled friend. No one. Ever.

I am becoming/have become her. I have shown the things that bring me sorrow and stress. I have asked for support when instructed by Therapist, and sometimes when I really felt I needed it, myself. I have lived through crisis after crisis. I am the troubled, annoying friend.

PTSD, for me, sometimes presents itself by making me stressed and panicky when I interact online with people. Sometimes it also happens when I'm texting a person. The simple truth is that, in those moments I have no way of understanding unspoken cues or subtlety and that inability is deeply distressing. So I have discouraged online chatting and removed myself from texted conversations. And this morning I awoke, went to work, and wished with all my heart that there was someone online to chat with.

Yes, that just happened.

You see, I've become the annoying, avoidable friend because the only thing that's consistent with me is that I will be depressed and dealing with some crisis-- perhaps of my own making. There's no way to solve my problems, which seems to lend credence to the belief that I'm happier when I'm unhappy.

I'm not, though. I'm still the person who wore the layers that attracted people in the first place. It's like this: If you love the way a certain friend manipulates fashion and style to his or her advantage, will you stop loving them if you see them naked? Do you like them less because you see what's underneath, and sometimes what you see is unpleasant?

I'm pretty certain most people would say, no, that wouldn't affect the relationship at all. But the truth is, they would also say they'd prefer to see that friend clothed again.

I'm just thinking, I guess. Maybe it's high time I got dressed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The important thing is to not be bitter over life's disappointments...

I glanced over this blog and her sister blog, "Magical World" this weekend. So many posts about how I'm doing better and healing and happier and learning how to have real relationships with people and other nonsense. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I believed if I said it often enough, it would be true.

The real truth is that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things don't change and real, lasting recovery doesn't really happen. I know I'm not supposed to say that. It sounds hopeless and self-defeating.

One decade. I have tried for one decade to make a life for myself where I could accept all the crap and still be a person who is supportive, loving, and real. I wanted to prove that I'm not tainted forever by the things that happened a long time ago. I wished to be someone who was a joyful part in the lives of people I love.

I think, though, that maybe none of that was real.

Last night I sat with Jeff in his home. We won't ever play or laugh as we did before we were molested. It sits between us, reminding us that with one misstep Jeff will be on a drinking binge and I will be caught in a world of PTSD which slowly sucks away the ability to think logically and love healthily. One day I'm fine-- the next day I can't remember why I wanted to live in the first place.

Jeff has medication to help him with the alcoholism and depression. As I'm unable to take medication, I can run. But Friday morning my run was difficult and depressing. I looked at what I was doing: wearing out my new hip so that I can survive bouts of PTSD for the rest of my life. I'm not sure what kind of life this is.

I expect that I'll be told all the reasons I have to live. I'm grateful for that. I need to hear it, and I believe it. But I'm so tired.

A week from Tuesday I will join Jeff in the location where we lost our innocence. We will give testimony in person, which will be reviewed by the district attorney and attorney general. At that point it will be out of my hands. Jeff has said he wishes to prosecute if a case can be made, and I have said I will support his wishes, whatever they may be.

But I don't want to do this. I don't want to talk about this anymore. I don't want to think about it. I want to be someone else.

Therapist has made a trip to My Town. He will see me this afternoon-- on Sunday-- around 5:30 p.m. Darrin says Therapist is really worried about me and that they both care about me. These are good things, but right now they don't mean anything to me. Maybe I'm just scared?

I have so much to do. I can't concentrate. It's been a couple of days since I've been able to eat. Sleep is a very, very bad place for me right now. Darrin tells me that I don't have to do this. Therapist tells me the same thing-- but then he says I've done the right thing by making a report. I'm a little distraught right now.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I just need to say this for the record: I've been wrong about a lot of things I've written in this blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I think I believed I was all better.

I didn't understand what making a report would mean-- what it would reveal about how much further I have to go in my healing. I had reached a stopping point. But I was not finished.

Things I learned:
1. I talk freely about what happened, but mostly here, where I pretend I'm anonymous. I spok about it on Facebook, but gave more details about how I've healed and not about what actually happened. In fact, I've never really talked about what happened beyond a few blog posts years ago, and once I told Josh a little bit. I'm pretty sure I told Tolkien Boy more than he wanted to know-- but that happens all the time. My conversations with him are basically made up of information he would be better off not knowing. Someday he'll scream, "STOP! I CAN'T KNOW ANYMORE ABOUT YOU! I HAVE NO MORE SPACE IN MY HEAD FOR SAMANTHA-TRIVIA!" and then I'll have to figure out how to talk about the weather without personalizing it.

2. I still pretend. All the time. I pretend it didn't happen. I know I'm doing it. I just get tired of being the person who was neglected, abused, unwanted, and raped. It's hard to be that person all the time. And I know I've grown beyond that and I'm not neglected, abused, unwanted, or raped now, but that part is still me. I took her back. I chose that. It was necessary. And sometimes it makes me exhausted. So there are days when I pretend I was never all those things-- days when I borrow parents who loved me and protected me, and people who would have helped me if they had known me as a child. I pretend I grew up happy and normal, and that I don't have PTSD now. It's a little embarrassing to admit all this, but the point is, I can't pretend anymore. What happened to me is a matter of record. My account, with Jeff's, is now sitting on the desk of the Attorney General who is trying to decide if this is a prosecutable case. I'm guessing it won't be, and I'm okay with that, but my pretense doesn't work anymore. I know this is real and my imagination is no longer adequate to combat reality.

3. I don't want to remember. When the interviewing deputy asked questions about details of what happened to me, there were times when I simply said, "I don't remember." And it was a lie. I do remember. I remember vividly. But sometimes I don't know if what I remember really happened. I'm not sure if I question the memories because they seem too awful to think about, or if I question them because I think I might have fabricated them. It's a stupid dilemma, really. My memory is horrifyingly accurate when I choose to access it, and I'm not really the type of person who gets pleasure from fabricated memories of horrible experiences. Those do not appeal to me. But I still told the officer I didn't know. I think what I meant was, "I can't talk about this or I might throw up."

4. When stuff like this happens, I can kiss PTSD management goodbye. Nothing helps. I find myself wanting people to be here NOW (I even called Darrin and said, "You need to be home. Right now," after the interview. Fortunately, he was off work and coming home when I called, so it was just a few minutes before he arrived.). And if they aren't here when I think I need them, I get angry. I find myself circling through the thoughts that they lied to me, they don't love me, they don't want me-- and then I move on to how much I don't want them anymore. From there I descend to the ways that I need to not be alive, how I'm clearly unloved and worthless, and then I move to the ways that death might peacefully occur. Do I know this is ridiculous? Yes. Absolutely. But it doesn't feel self-indulgent or self-pitying. It feels like a runaway train and I'm standing in front of it, helpless to stop it. I try all the therapy strategies I've learned, but nothing seems to help.

5. I think I probably need to talk to Therapist. But I don't know what to say. Part of me feels that this shouldn't be happening. I should be done with all this. I've been working for a DECADE to heal. How much longer will it take? Please, please do not tell me this is the rest of my life. I can't do that. I'm not kidding. I need this to get better.

So now I'm going to meet with a theory student. Then I'm going to make chokecherry jelly. It's Tolkien Boy's birthday. If you know him, you should wish him a happy birthday. He's an amazing person. If he was here, I would hug him. Tomorrow I'm going to a wedding. Next week I'll be getting ready to teach my classes and picking crabapples. These are all very good things. I need to think about them. I need to remember I'm supposed to keep living. I need to stop getting caught up in things that happened a long time ago. I need to stop crying about things that don't matter anymore.

I think I can do this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today I filed an official report. Jeff was to be contacted, as well, so that he could file his report. There is no statute of limitations. The most serious charge that can be filed (and this would be a longshot) is fourth degree sexual assault.

I don't want to do this. It sucks.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I'm having lots of ups and downs lately. Stress does that to me.

Father-in-law went home yesterday. Adam was the last one to leave for work and it occurred to me that I was alone in my home for the first time in a couple of weeks. I'm not saying for sure, but I might have done a little dancing while singing loudly. It's also possible that I had my first talking-to-myself session in awhile. I'm a pretty fun person to talk to. I like me. And there is a slight chance that I ate a weird snack in my living room while reciting a poem with my mouth full.

Running is wonderful. Today I hit 21 minutes of intervals. I'm not supposed to do more. Possibly I run 3-5 minutes successively while I'm supposed to be cooling down, but that's against the rules. But if I did that, it would make make me very happy. I'm usually happy when I'm finished running. I have to maintain this until Wednesday, at which point I'm allowed to go to a 1:1 minute ratio of running/walking which will last for another week and a half.

My physical therapist had this conversation with me last Monday:

PT: You've not been able to run regularly for more than two years now. Running-- building up to running can feel really awful.
me (staring at her blankly): Really? I've never done that before.
PT: You've never had to build up your running stamina?
me: No. Except for the time recently when my hip stopped working, I've always run. I don't remember a time when I didn't.
PT: Well, there's a good chance this is going to suck then.

And then we went over the red/yellow/green signs of pain.

Perhaps because I ran about six elliptical miles at an 8-10 mph pace prior to surgery (and I've worked back up to that now), I've felt no cardiovascular discomfort. The one-minute intervals feel effortless (seriously, one minute? Everyone in the world can run that!). I've been doing them at 5-7 mph because PT told me not to go too fast, but I'm anxious to run more, and a slower pace feels ridiculous. I've had no stiffness nor soreness after the first day. I'm guessing my hip had to process the fact that things were a little different, and now that we've made it through that, all is fine. I feel like I never stopped running at all.

This has been very helpful as PTSD presents itself. I don't have energy stored up inside. Energy seems to feed the PTSD symptoms. There have been plenty of negative and difficult feelings, but I'm coping with them fairly well.

These are all good things.

Things I'm not sure are good:
1. I don't feel lonely anymore. Ever. Don't get me wrong. I don't think loneliness is something to strive for, but missing people--wanting people-- seems like a healthy thing when it happens at a low level. It reminds me that I'm not alone and that I need people in my life. But right now I don't feel that. It's not the "I don't care about people anymore" feeling that I sometimes experience. It's more a feeling that people are really nice, and I like them--even love them, but I'm fine if they don't contact me or visit. I know this makes me seem... actually, I don't know how it makes me seem. But it does seem a bit out of character for me. I might ponder this a little bit and decide if it matters.

2. I'm not finished with my syllabi, nor my lesson plans, nor have I downloaded music or visited the wreck of our fine arts center as it goes through a remodel. Actually, I haven't started writing even one syllabus. I have 2 weeks to get those things done. My Intro to Music class is full (150 students). This is nuts. I'm pretty sure no one should ever teach this many students at once. I haven't done it since I was in grad school.

3. I agreed to play the organ every other week in church. I hate playing the organ.

4. I need flowers. Daily. And chocolate. I don't remember wanting those things as often nor as forcefully as I do now, and have done for the past few weeks. It's a little weird.

5. I did cartwheels on Monday this week. I asked my PT first. She gave me a weird look and said I could if I wanted a tone that suggested no one would want to. So I did. But since then I've been wondering why I want to. Most of the people I know don't really want to do cartwheels, but then again, most of them haven't had a hip replaced. Maybe you only want to do cartwheels if you have a fake hip.

6. After nine months of being clean, my cousin Jeff relapsed. This week. I saw him Wednesday. He was drunk within three hours of our visit. I'm not sure he's been sober since. This was our text conversation late last night:

Jeff: It was dark and musty smelling and I never slept.
me: I'm sorry. I'm sorry the memories hurt so much. Do you need to talk?
Jeff: I am losing it and I am drinking...
me: I know. I love you, Jeff.
Jeff: How?
me: How do I love you?
Jeff: How do you love me, and how do I go on?
me: I love you because I know you. I know the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I will always love you. Going on is the hard part. You're feeling some scary, awful stuff right now. You won't always feel it. You do need to get some help.

He didn't answer after that. I don't know what happened. I don't need to know. This hurts me more than I like to admit. Every word Jeff shares triggers a similar memory for me. Then I get to sort through all the aftermath.

So part of me is doing very well, and part of me feels awful. I don't know how to deal with the awful part. I wonder if I don't feel lonely because there is a persistent feeling that it's pointless to feel that. It is very difficult to battle the belief that Jeff and I were, and are, and will always be alone. Not physically, but emotionally. There is also a very strong feeling that people have tried to reach us, to help us, to love us-- and we used them all up. They have different people to reach and help and love now, and it's time for Jeff and I to become independent-- to figure things out on our own.

But I can't. I can't figure it out. I need a hug tonight, and I need someone to tell me it's going to be okay.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Running Again

Yup. I am.

Right now I'm still learning to use my new hip and I'm limited to using the treadmill-- one minute running/two minutes walking, no more than 10 minutes daily, but I don't care. I'm running. Three weeks from today, the goal is to double my time with a 1/1 ratio, at which point I'll be evaluated to see how this is effecting bionicness.

I can't even express how happy this makes me. Picture me smiling because I am.

Maybe when I'm 80 I'll understand.

My father-in-law does nothing. I'm pretty sure he wants to do something, but unless someone suggests it, he does nothing. On Saturday he asked us when we attend church on Sunday. We told him 9:00 a.m. Then we got up and went to church. FIL is not a member of our church and has, in the past, been more than a little antagonistic about our membership and attendance. When I got home, FIL said in a voice that meant he was miffed that I had not invited him, "Sometimes I go to church with Darrin's sister."

Now I ask you, how am I supposed to know he wants to go? Definitely, I'm at fault for not using my hostess skills and inviting him even when I assumed he didn't want to go. The invitation should still have been extended, but sometimes it's okay to TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE THINKING!


So today was packed. I had 30 minutes of down time between 5 a.m. and midnight. That's a long workday even for me. And FIL just sat on the couch for eight hours until Darrin came home at 5:00-- at which time FIL asked if Darrin would take him to Safeway. This is a good thing because if I had been asked to do the Safeway trip, there would have been no downtime for me today. But still, how does he sit on the couch for that long. I'm assuming naps were involved.

Tomorrow I have scheduled an hour to go with him to do some legal stuff involving his estate. But that's all. My day tomorrow looks very much like today--although it's sort of already tomorrow since it's after midnight. I think I might go sleep.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Today I went shopping with my father-in-law

Darrin is the youngest in his family. I am one of the oldest. My dad is in his late 60s. Darrin's dad is ancient.

Because of his ancientness, and four heart attacks, and a stroke, FIL opted for one of those riding scooters at the store. He walks S-L-O-W-L-Y. But the riding scooters always seem to be agonizingly slow, as well. However, not when my FIL is driving.

After nearly hitting about six shoppers because they weren't walking quickly enough, I suggested that my FIL give pedestrians the right of way. This was met with a chilly reception. FIL tried to leave me behind, giving that electric scooter all the juice he could. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you're viewing this from my FIL's point of view), I'm a pretty fast walker and didn't get left behind. FIL continued to make walking shoppers leap out of the way, and then played chicken with another scooter driver. He won.

FIL will be here for seven more days. Pray for me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Putting myself in time-out

Because sometimes when I'm unable to manage PTSD (not even close to "managing" right now), I think about weird things, and imagine weirder ones. And, of course, all of those things involve how I feel about people in my life and are completely irrational. That does not mean I don't feel those things deeply and seriously. It does mean that I feel completely crazy pretty much all the time.

I felt this coming on a month ago. I had hoped that getting away with friends and family would help, and it sort of did. For about a week. I've not had time to follow my routine that helps me keep my insane feelings in check. My schedule has been unpredictable and too busy for someone like me. I have been known to fill my schedule with things, so as to avoid any time that would allow me to brood or sulk or think too much. But those are things I choose myself. The things that make me busy right now are not of my choosing, which adds to the sense of losing control and leads to thoughts about people which make no sense, but feel completely logical.

So I need a time-out. Having an online presence exacerbates the intensity and frequency of the feelings. That will be gone for awhile. I need my communication to happen in person so that I can better understand nuance and not misinterpret intent or assume incorrect things about the person speaking. Email is also a good venue. It allows me time to think while I read and offers me an opportunity to sort through the crappy thoughts that insist on being in my head. Before I reply, I can at least acknowledge that I'm insane. Phone is also an option. Hearing a voice behind the words helps me. No one likes to talk on the phone anymore. I get that. But since I usually don't expect communication from anyone, that's not relevant. And quite honestly, at this point I would rather not communicate at all than become a victim of myself.

I've stocked up on books. Today I started running again. I have work enough to do. I'll probably blog a bit because shouting at the cosmos seems to appeal to me. I'm guessing this will be a short time-out of just a few months. I'm thinking I'll let myself leave it next spring.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Years ago I was in the pediatrician's office, waiting for my child to be called to an exam room. I was pretending to read a magazine. I sort of hate magazines. When boredom and waiting force me to read something I hate, I begin reading at the end and go towards the front. For some reason this makes me feel less grumpy about reading it. So I was reading the end of the magazine - the part with all the ads and classifieds and partial recipes and shopping information for things I would never in a million years want or need - and something caught my eye. It was a vacation ad for the islands off the coast of Maine. For two weeks one could kayak from island to island. Nights would be spent at an island bed and breakfast, meals and lodging were part of the package. In short-- an outdoor adventure during the day with a hot meal and comfortable room at night. This is my kind of camping.

When I got home from the appointment I couldn't stop thinking about that advertisement. At the time, Darrin and I had quite a bit of disposable income. The price was reasonable, we had never taken a vacation of that duration together since the kids had been born, and I wanted to do it. I talked about it with Darrin that night. To my disappointment, rather than sharing my excitement, Darrin listed 100 reasons why we shouldn't go. Among those were concern about competent child care and ability to get time off. Those were valid. I agreed with him. All Darrin's other reasons were, in my opinion, silly: Maine was too far away; if we were going to spend that much money, he'd rather just take the kids and visit family in NYC; he didn't want to eat seafood...

I looked at him for a moment, wondering what was happening. Then I realized he simply did not want to go on my vacation. What I had chosen didn't appeal to him. He didn't want to go to Maine, he didn't want to go kayaking, didn't want to risk staying at a B&B or eat meals that came with a prepackaged vacation. But most of all, he wanted to plan the vacation himself.

This has been a chronic problem for Darrin and I. When it comes to decisions involving a lot of money, like buying a car or planning a pricey vacation, Darrin objects to anything I choose without him. In the end, we usually end up with my choice anyway because I don't just choose on a whim. I research and haggle and find great prices, and Darrin is all about getting a great deal-- but he objects on principle because I didn't include him in all that.

So I asked Darrin to help me plan a vacation and we ended up spending about $150 to take the family to a reunion and stay with my parents and siblings (and their families) in our old home on the other side of the state. Not really a vacation for me, since that house has a lot of very ugly memories and I spent my time taking care of kids and juggling family politics. I really wanted my kayak time.

I didn't forget. In the past, when I've come up with an idea for Darrin and I to spend time together, if he's not shown reciprocal interest, I've given up the idea. It's not fun to spend time with someone who doesn't want to be there. But this time, I really wanted my vacation.

When I began seeing Therapist, one of his observations was that I was very independent at work, in my parenting skills, and in my personal life, but when it came to my interaction with Darrin I was no longer sure of myself. I often compromised things that I wanted in order to assure his comfort and ease. That is not to say that we never argued-- but that usually happened when I had compromised to the point that I felt my needs were completely ignored (interestingly, Darrin has often felt that he compromises to that same extent with me). When I could no longer tolerate the feeling that I was completely at the mercy of what Darrin wanted, a huge fight ensued, sending my children running for cover and leaving Darrin wondering who he had married. These things happen. Fortunately, for us, they haven't happened very often.

So Therapist and Darrin and I had some conversations where we talked about alternative ways to make decisions. Therapist said a compromise usually involves giving on both side, so what I was doing was not compromise but capitulation. That was not something I wished to hear. Nor did Darrin. Then Therapist told us that Darrin and I are both great capitulators, but not great compromisors. We needed to switch gears, say more words about why things were important to us when a conflict arose, and allow each other alone time to pursue the things that one of us enjoyed (cars for Darrin), but the other did not (running/working out/kayaking for me).

That made complete sense to Darrin and me. And we spent five years honing our skills and strengthening our marriage. But in the process, some things happened to me.
1. I stopped being emotionally dependent on my husband.
2. I took the first solo trip of my life and spent a week on the road, visiting friends and being alone.
3. We needed a car. Darrin said I could choose - so I did. As was his habit, he found a different car he thought would be better. I stood my ground, reminded him he said I could choose (and that my car had nearly 80,000 fewer miles and was $4000 cheaper and I WANTED that dent in the bumper), and Darrin remembered that sometimes I can make decisions without him. We bought the car I had chosen. I felt rather empowered going through the process of researching what I wanted, finding the vehicle and setting the price.
4. I began spending some of my free time with people other than Darrin. I invited friends to lunch with me. I planned alone time. I didn't allow myself to feel guilt when my social life blossomed and Darrin was left to fill some of his with things he wished to do. The fact that he didn't choose to fill that new time was not my fault.

In short, I became a whole person without Darrin. I still wanted him. I was still in love with him. I just didn't NEED him all the time. And I was much happier.

On the other hand, Darrin had to deal with a loss. I wasn't always there when he wanted me. Sometimes I just said no when he asked me to do something and I had too much to do. Often I asserted my needs or wants, reminding him that mine were equally as important as his. Darrin supported me in this. He understood why it needed to happen. But it was still uncomfortable for him.

 So one day, when I was with a someone-not-Darrin, I talked about my Maine kayaking vacation and asked that person if she would like to come with me. She said, "YES! That sounds amazing!" And I decided that I was going to go one day, with or without Darrin. He said he was fine with that.

That was three years ago.

Last week, as we were traveling, Darrin was sharing his bucket list with me. A day or two later he said, "You didn't tell me the things on your bucket list." I actually had shared some with him, and I reminded him. He wanted to know what I hadn't shared. I said, "Well, most of what's left are things I like to do, but you don't." He wanted me to name one. So I mentioned the kayak vacation. Darrin was quiet for a minute. Then he said, "I'd like to do that with you."

Therapist told me a long time ago that this would happen. He said that Darrin and I both harbor fears that we're not enough for each other-- which is why we sometimes argue even when we don't know why. We feel insecure. We need to reestablish the status quo. We don't know how to say, "This makes me feel vulnerable." And the truth is, we're not "enough" for each other. One person can never fill another's needs completely. But we ARE enough in the sense that we don't have to do more, or be more, or have more, to be the person each of us chooses. Every time.

Darrin does not want to go kayaking in Maine. But he does want to be with me. And that's enough.