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Saturday, May 31, 2008

One down...

It's finally over. This was the longest lasting PTSD episode I've experienced thus far. I felt it rearing its ugly head the first week of May and the anxiety slowly increased over a period of three or four days. I honestly thought I was going crazy.

Past episodes have lasted a couple of days to a week. Then I've awakened one morning to find myself feeling whole and happy and relaxed. This episode began waning about ten days ago and has very slowly tapered off. Tonight it is finally finished.

As each episode wanes I become overwhelmed with the following feelings:
1. Guilt--for things I've said and done that were uncalled for, impatient, or possibly hurtful.
2. Embarrassment--because I want to be able to cope with this gracefully and with as little awkwardness as possible, and that never happens.
3. Aggravation--because I want PTSD to go away and leave me alone.
4. Gratitude--overwhelming gratitude. Because most of my family and friends still love me and haven't gone away while I've been enduring some really frightening and frustrating days and nights, regardless of my odd behavior.

I'm hoping I don't have another episode lasting as long as my most recent one. I need to devise a management plan, though, just in case I do. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the respite time. And if I seem unduly effusive when I tell you I love you, miss you, and bestow random expressions of gratitude, please indulge me. I need to say those things now, for when the episodes come, I often find myself unable to say anything.

Today my favorite wildflowers began to bloom, I got some extra sleep, and Darrin was home all day. I can't stop smiling. Life is really very beautiful.

Doing a happy dance in my kitchen

Yup. That's what's happening right now. And I'm smiling so much my cheeks hurt.

Greeting the world

Today everyone leaves. I look beautiful. I smell better. I am absolutely delightful. Who can resist me? No one! I say. NO ONE!!!

It will be a joyful departure. :)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day Five

DJ graduated.

We had a lunch party for him today at a park. It was 69 degrees, sunny, with a fairly brisk wind. The Darrin relatives huddled in a corner and made unpleasant remarks about the weather. Darrin's oldest sister made non-stop comments about how we had "way too much food." I ignored everyone. This was for DJ not for them. They eventually went to their cars and sat there. DJ, sweetly oblivious to all conflict, enjoyed himself. When he was ready to leave, I suggested we move the party to our house to accommodate the wussy relatives. He said that was fine.

The relatives sat in my living room and said, "Isn't there anything to do around here?" Finally I said, "You have come to Hicktown USA. There is nothing to do here that doesn't happen outside. You don't like our weather, so you're inside. Inside, what we do is look at each other and visit. How about that! You're already doing it, and I didn't even have to show you how.! You're naturals!!" They looked at me like I was insane. I've never had such rude guests. They complained more and consumed amazing amounts of the food I had "way too much" of.

My neighbor from across the street came to visit bearing cookies. I believe she saved my life. She sat with me and we talked about fun things and laughed. She said to call her if I needed to escape and take a walk. I knew I wouldn't have the opportunity, but it was good to know she was there for me.

Graduation was short and sweet. One of Darrin's sisters complained that the auditorium was too hot. I thought it felt nice. We drove home--what a beautiful night! I mentioned to Mother-in-Law that the wind had died down and it was lovely. She growled about the cold and went inside my house. Tired of the complaints and bad tempers, I left her in there alone, and sat on the porch in my delightful outdoors. The other Darrin relatives decided they were hungry (how is that possible? They ate thousands of pounds of food today!) and they needed pizza. They invited me to go. I declined. Mother-in-law went with them. Adam decided I was much better company than the grouchy relatives, and stayed with me.

Adam and I both had stomach aches from all the stress. We took medicine. I worked and Adam rested until the pizza crew came back.

Everyone goes home tomorrow. I can't wait.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Four

Lots of Aaron's family came today. An aunt, two sisters, a father, a couple of nephews and a niece.

They are already being bossy and disagreeable, but not to me. Darrin told them that I was "fragile". He told them that this time last year I spend a few days in the hospital because I was suicidal. He said this was already a sensitive time for me, that I was having difficulty dealing with PTSD and they needed to treat me carefully.

They're responding by treating me as an invalid, avoiding eye contact and trying not to talk to me. I'm trying to decide if I care.

The truth is that a last night I had a sort of panic attack. I couldn't breathe. I left the house with the excuse of going to get pizza for dinner and texted a friend because I needed to talk to someone--anyone--who wasn't related to me by blood or marriage. I had nothing to say, I just needed to hear a voice from someone who wanted nothing from me and who didn't feel a need to control me in any way. I knew what--who--was coming today.

My mother said she wanted to have everyone over for dinner. Translation: she wanted to have me fix dinner for everyone at her house. I would have preferred to do it at my house, but I'm too tired to argue with my mom right now. I went to her house and cooked dinner. Darrin helped and so did DJ and Adam. My sister-in-law helped briefly which I really appreciated.

We're having lunch at the park tomorrow with some of DJ's friends and all the family. Darrin's aunt took me to the store tonight and paid for all the food. She said she wanted to do something for me because she was fairly certain Darrin's mom and other family members weren't contributing. She was right. She's a lovely person.

So--basically, no one is talking to me, which is a switch for Darrin's family. They normally have plenty to say to me. I honestly cannot decide if the new situation is good or bad. I've become the resident crazy person.

It's so funny, because if they would take time to find out the truth, they'd recognize that I'm not fragile in the least. I've been to hell and back in my lifetime and still managed to emerge with three wonderful kids, a stable family environment, a thriving career, and, quite honestly, if you take the time to get to know me, I'm rather delightful. I deal with PTSD on a regular basis. It's scary and I hate it, but I think, given that it's still rather new, I'm dealing with it capably.

And now I think I'll go cry for a minute and then go to bed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day Three

I went to the dentist--I'm quite certain that's the reason I did what I did today.

When I came back from the dentist, I spent three hours conversing with Mother-in-law. She is now well-educated about the following terms:
Gay/Lesbian/SSA/Whatever = what I am.
MOM (mixed-orientation marriage) = what I have with Darrin.
Well-informed children = what her grandchildren are.
Love = true affection with the absence of malice, discrimination, or prejudice.
Blessings = people who have come into my life to support, guide or nurture me in the past two years. These might be passing commentors who have said just the right thing or good friends who have never gone away.
Courage = what people have who stick around when I'm being embarrassingly irrational.
Non-sexual touch = something I needed as a child, never received and now crave.
Stubbornness = an innate quality which keeps me trying even when I'm tired.

I don't really have much to say about this interchange. Mother-in-law cried when she thought about the unique condition of her baby's marriage. That was weird. She also hugged me and kissed me. Also weird, but still nice. Then she thanked me. She said I always give her a new perspective.

She makes me nuts. I love her like crazy.

Day Two

I let Mother-in-law sleep in. She slept until 10:30 a.m. I can't imagine sleeping that long. Maybe when I'm her age I'll be able to.

Today I learned that people are idiots when they wear flip-flops in "this kind of weather." So--I wore flip-flops today. Mother-in-law gasped at me. I laughed and offered to lend her a pair. She declined.

Mother-in-law does not know how to make my phone work. She told me that several times this morning. I asked if she wanted to know. She declined.

I went for a walk with a friend. I invited Mother-in-law. She declined.

I went to work. I did not invite Mother-in-law.

I learned that one cannot find Yoplait yogurt in the stores by Mother-in-law's house because all the "illegals" want a different kind. I think she's lying to me. She told me all sorts of stories about the "illegals". I happen to know she hires a couple of them to work in her yard twice a week. They do a wonderful job. She's lucky the "illegals" ignore her bigotry and take her money.

Seriously, if I keep finding out new things every day, I will become a genius worthy of being a member of Mensa. Yes, that was a joke. I think I'm hilarious.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day One

Today we went to the airport to pick up Darrin's mother. Every time she comes I learn new things. Today we learned that everything in our lives is based on our heritage. For instance, Mother-in-law loves Reuben sandwiches because her grandmother was Jewish. She likes jewelry because her father was from Spain and they make Spanish gold there (don't ask me...I have no idea what that means...). Tabitha's ears are pierced because it's a genetic anomaly among the women in Darrin's family--they're just born that way (never mind the fact that I actually took her to get them pierced in December--I'm obviously delusional). A European Spanish heritage requires one to yell at drivers that are aggravating as long as no swearing is involved. I believe the exact words you may use are: "HOW MUCH DID YOU PAY THE DMV TO GET THEM TO GRANT YOU A DRIVER'S LICENSE?? YOU CAN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M SAYING, CAN YOU?? IF YOU COME TO THIS COUNTRY MAYBE YOU SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME LEARNING ENGLISH AND LESS TIME DRIVING LIKE A SCHMUCK!!!" (Never mind the fact that Mother-in-law's Mother-in-law died without learning a word of English, and she lived in New York City. Perhaps that's inapplicable, though. Mother-in-law's Mother-in-law didn't drive.)

So now it begins. Darrin's family is descending upon us. They make me crazy because they will spend the whole time trying to tell me how to live every aspect of my life from loading the dishwasher to cleaning myself after defecation (sorry). And anyone who knows me understands that people just don't tell me what to do--ever. This makes for somewhat stressful interaction as they talk their heads off for the purpose of my improvement, and I dedicate myself to ignoring them.

Wish me luck. Only five more days to go!


My cousin, one year older than I, whose children are the same ages as mine. She died of multiple myeloma when her oldest was eight years old.

Her brother who died the year before she did, of leukemia. He left a wife and five children.

Their mother, my aunt, who died of breast cancer four years ago.

My Grandpa E., who was funny and gruff and contracted Alzheimer's disease and died sad and angry in a care facility.

My Grandpa T., who was funny and energetic and loved my babies. He could eat more than any person I know and was as skinny as he could be. He helped me learn to love work. He would listen to me play music forever. He thought I was a marvel. Then he forgot me, too, when he contracted Alzheimer's. He died sad and confused in a care facility.

My Grandma T., who gave me life when I wished to die. She told me I was beautiful. She knew I could do anything I chose to do. She loved my curly hair and dark eyes. She said I was very special. She told me she loved me. She died three years ago of breast cancer.

I miss them all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wishing things were different

In my lifetime I have only known one person who dealt with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was my uncle--"was" being the operative word. My aunt divorced him about seven years ago.

My uncle was a character. He was an avid reader, and environmentalist, a talented machinist, and a Green Beret. He was decorated many times over for his service in the Vietnam war. Green Berets are decorated for one thing only--killing people. After his discharge, my uncle--unable to deal with the number of lives he had taken--turned to drugs to forget.

Years later he joined the church, got clean and married my aunt. They were married for more than twenty years. In that time I watched him deteriorate. He became so paranoid that he would only go to work if he was allowed to lock himself in a room and work alone. He believed my aunt was cheating on him constantly. He would sit in a group of people and gradually isolate himself with silence and a refusal to make eye contact. When his stress and paranoia became too much for him, my uncle would get into his car, drive to the Florida coast, rent a boat and stay on the ocean until the episode passed. The trip to Florida took three days. One day I'm certain he'll be lost at sea--an end to his life that he will welcome.

I have a terrible fear that I, too, will one day end up like my uncle. Probably I won't be lost at sea, but just lost in the miasma of fear and sadness and paranoia that accompany each PTSD episode. Today I sat with my kids and explained why I act unreasonable at times. I let them know that if they shout or argue with me when I'm experiencing PTSD crap, it sends me into a flashback which leaves me shaking and helpless. I asked for their help and understanding as I try to figure out how to combat this problem.

I'm left feeling miserable. This is not my children's problem--it's mine. I've asked for help from friends--it isn't their problem either. I asked AtP to please hang on to me--even when it seemed I wanted to leave. I asked TB to remind me that he loves me if it seems I'm having difficulty being human. I asked Darrin to please keep being in love with me. I'm absolutely pathetic.

I have another month before I see Therapist. This is our big experiment. Can Samantha cope with PTSD episodes without running to Therapist for help? Can she live like a big girl? Can she survive without driving to Florida and disappearing on the ocean for days?

I don't want to turn into my uncle--but each time an episode passes, I completely understand him. That's horribly scary.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


We had a tornado, thunderstorms, hail, flash flood and now it's snowing. There were semi's tipped over on the freeway, a lone boat at the side of the road, disappearing roofs and uprooted trees. If you'd like pictures of the aftermath, email me. I'll send you a link.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh My Goodness!!!

It's spring! Finally!! In spite of last week's snowstorms!

My tulips have bloomed and my garden is ready for me to shop for plants to stick in it. My cherry bushes are in full blossom and the crab apple tree is preparing to join them. There are wild flowers all over the ridge where I run and the air feels incredibly beautiful. Today it's warm and sunny. I just want to be outside!

I have played my last recital for a few months, accompanied my last performance till fall, and the final competition of the school year for my students took place this morning (they played flawlessly--yay!). I have three tax returns to finish and will teach a few private students during the summer and a few classes on campus--but all in all, I think I have my life back. Adam will be happy because he told me I don't spend time with him anymore, which is absolutely untrue but his way of saying he hates Darrin being gone and expects me to make up the deficit--an impossibility.

Darrin's mother arrives on Monday. We're preparing mentally. The kids get anxious when she's here because she has a rather strong personality, she likes stating her opinions (bigoted and racist though they might be), and she tells me constantly not to put wood-handled utensils in my dishwasher. This will be the first time she has visited since my children were told that I'm gay-ssa-lesbian-whatever. Inevitably, the conversation will at some point morph to where she can state her views about that subject. My children have been taught to be respectful. They have also been taught to speak out when they feel something is wrong. They also love could be an interesting week.

Darrin's father, two sisters, a few nephews and niece, and his aunt will be coming next Thursday. Darrin's mother had decided earlier that all the guys would stay at my house and the girls would stay in hotels. She forgot, however, to consult me about that. Given my background, having teenage boys (cousins to my children) staying in my home, is not a good situation for me. I sort of freaked. I mentioned to her that most guests ASK the home-owner before commandeering a home. I'm in the dog house. But as of today, only my mother-in-law is staying with us. Everyone else has found other lodging. I think she would like to do that, as well, but she's staying five nights, instead of only two, as the others are, and her husband doesn't like her to spend money. Does this paragraph adequately illustrate my cattiness toward my mother-in-law? Ugh, sometimes I need to learn to be nicer.

DJ graduates a week from Friday. I love that boy. He has been pure sunshine from the day he was born. I love that he likes to spend time with me. I love how he kisses me goodbye--even if we're in public or with his friends. I love his hugs. I love his sweetness and sense of humor. No, I'm not happy that he's grown up, but I love the person he's become. He is beautiful.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last week was not a good one, obviously. I wallowed in self-pity. I thought of all the bad things in my life. I made sure I remembered that I've had some mistreatment. I ran away from people and tried to be invisible. I was an idiot.

The interesting thing about PTSD is that when the symptoms start, my head says, "HEY! Stop being stupid! This isn't real and it will go away in a few days!" And my heart says, "Oh no! Everything bad in the world is TRUE!! People only exist to use me! I have to protect myself and make them all go away!" It's an odd sensation when one feels rational yet insane simultaneously.

So, if you wrote me or left a comment and I didn't respond, it's because I wasn't sure how to do that. Head: "Thank you so much for caring. I need people who will look past the fact that I'm a complete imbecile and stick around when I'm being stupid." Heart: "What do you want from me? Why are you looking at me? Ahhh...why are there people??"

A couple of people asked how I was doing. Answer: Horrible. However, saying that seems to create a very uncomfortable environment, so no response seemed prudent. I've been not responding to many things. It just makes a happier place universally.

However, not talking also makes everything inside me feel worse. Darrin left for another training session this week. When PTSD is calm I'm fine with him leaving. It's part of his job. I'm an adult. I can sleep alone. When PTSD is not calm it feels that he is leaving me. I don't say anything because my head jumps in and reminds me that I'm being crazy, but my heart feels abandoned and betrayed and I can't say anything because everything I'm feeling is imaginary. Darrin loves me. He doesn't like to leave us behind. He wishes he were home.

In the meantime, while I feel everything escalating most of my interaction with people feels like a personal attack from one side or another. I feel attacked--I return the favor--pretty soon both of us wish the other was on the other side of the world, never to return. I need a PTSD cell where I can lock myself away until everything calms down and my heart sees reason once again.

The problem from my vantage point is that I can never predict what will trigger an episode. It could be situational stress, an event, an anniversary or holiday, a sentence uttered, music, an odor, lack of sleep...

And when everything eases and life feels normal once again, I'm left with beautiful memories of how incredibly asinine I am, wishing I could take back words or complete conversations, wondering why I sobbed over silly things, dying inside when I wonder who will stay when they've experienced the me I can't control.

But someday I am not going to have this anymore. I believe I've lived through enough crap. It's time for me to be free. And so, regardless of what the erudite scholars and psychiatrists say, Therapist and I believe that I can figure out a way to grow beyond this. Right now, I have to cling to that belief because I cannot cope with the idea that I might have PTSD episodes throughout the rest of my life. It makes me want to scream endlessly--which would not only be ugly to hear, it would hurt my throat. And that would just be pointless and would solve nothing.

So--to all who have witnessed my latest undignified PTSD wallowing--my sincerest apologies. Please forgive anything I have said or done. Everything is securely tucked away once again, business as usual. For now, I am a safe person.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19th

One year ago today, I sat in my home and wondered what I would do. I felt overwhelmed to the point that I could no longer function. I felt that I had been used up, that whatever had been pure and beautiful had been taken from me. Part of me saw the hopeful, delightful child I had been. Another part of me saw that people I loved had used me in horrific ways. I could find no way to fit the two parts together. This had been going on for several days, complicated by the fact that Therapist had moved away and I felt I could not contact him for help.

One year ago today I felt very strongly that the only escape I could find from this was through death. I wanted to die. It felt logical, peaceful, and right. I thought about it for several hours. My children and husband were occupied away from our home and I was alone. As I began to think about how I would accomplish my death, I looked at my bedroom wall and saw a picture of my oldest son at three years old. He was smiling and sweet, and in my heart I knew I did not want to leave him. So, I called a suicide hotline, hoping for some help.

At this point my poignant story becomes ridiculous. The lady on the other end of the hotline answered. I tried to explain my predicament--but--although she came through loud and clear, she could not hear me. I found myself screaming through the receiver, "THIS IS THE STORY OF MY LIFE!!" and I hung up the phone. I sat numbly on my bed, trying not to laugh and cry hysterically. Then I got up, walked to my dad's house, went into his office and said, "Dad, will you take me to the hospital? I need help right now."

So, I ended up in the health ward of the hospital, in a room walled with windows facing the desk so that people could watch me at all times. And I spent a weekend doing puzzles, watching therapy videos, and wanting to go home.

There were good things that came of this. Tests were run. It was determined that I have no chemical imbalances and that I'm not depressed. Apparently, one can actually be sad and overwhelmed without needing medication. I was mourning the loss of a wonderful therapist, and I was experiencing delayed symptoms of PTSD.

As soon as I got home I began my newest research project. I learned everything I could about PTSD--and it didn't take very long because not a lot is known about it. In the past year I've often felt I was in Hell as the symptoms became more acute and frequent. Apparently, as I allowed myself to begin feeling and remembering all that I had suppressed, the latent PTSD was given a pathway to manifest itself. And as I coped with the crappy stress and anxiety of that, I wondered many times if I had done the right thing. Life was much easier when I lived in denial.

At that point in my life I had made some rather wonderful friendships. I watched and hated myself as I sabotaged them in paranoid bouts of anxiety. I reconnected with Therapist, driving 800 miles round trip to meet with him, and he tried to give me tools to overcome the feelings which drove me away from people and made me wish to isolate myself indefinitely. I have no idea if anything worked, but I tried with my whole soul to overcome things.

And now, I'm just tired. I'm tired of wishing my life had been different. I'm tired of accepting it was not. I no longer wish to die, and I recognize that my life has beaten the odds repeatedly. But inside I keep thinking that one day everything will relax, and I'll rest, and I won't be afraid anymore.

Today, when I was running it smelled wonderful and alive--grass and dirt and wildflowers--the air was lovely. I'm going to be okay.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No requests found. Please try another search.

That title has nothing to do with this post. The truth is, today is an incredibly bad day after an incredibly bad night. I think it's because of my tooth, because I know I have to go to the dentist. I think it might be because Darrin is leaving for the week again, and he just got back last Tuesday after being gone. I think it might be because my jobs are winding down and I'm panicking that I haven't filled the void. I think it might be because Darrin's family will start coming a week from Monday and he won't be here. I think it might be because I'm lame and can't control stupid PTSD stupid symptoms that are making me feel like freaking out right now, and I don't feel like I can call anyone (number one on coping techniques list), because I waited too long and now I'm stupid scared of people.

That's all. :(


I have to go to the dentist again. I lost another filling.


The Dysfunctional Gardener

Darrin told me I had to kill the dandelions in my flower-garden-to-be. And I did it, but it made me sad because, well, I like dandelions. They're so yellow and happy-looking. And let's face it, in my neck of the woods, yellow and happy-looking doesn't happen until June, usually, unless it happens with the dandelions. So I'd been letting them grow in my garden plot, just for color...

Darrin told me if I didn't kill the dandelions, I'd fight them all summer long and well in to next year. I think he's probably right, I'm just not sure I care. But I killed them anyway and my garden-to-be has been looking brown and dead.

But then, last week, my tulips bloomed--yellow and happy-looking! And they weren't killed by the snow a few days ago. And I have some rather stubborn pansies that come up year after year--yellow and orange and happy-looking!

I think I might go shop for flowers to put in my garden this week. And fresh herbs. And tomatoes.

I guess it's okay to kill the dandelions. But I really do like them.

Acceptance sucks!

Recently I mentioned to a friend that I no longer feel welcome when I chat with others. Please understand, this is me--my feelings--not a reflection on anything that has been said to me. And everyone knows, my feelings are pretty out of kilter most of the time.
me: I don't feel that I'm sharing when I talk about me. I feel that I'm taking something that doesn't belong to me. I'm stealing time from them. Time better spent doing other things.
Friend: If that logic were applied to everyone, then we would all be islands, never touching anyone. I can't imagine that's how life is supposed to be, can you?
me: You should see me laughing--sort of hysterically, actually. That is how I imagine my life.
I crave quiet. I seek out alone time. And while I long to be by myself, I ache for the people I love to be with me. And I wonder why.

In the past two years my blog has networked modestly through a number of communities. I'm still unsure why people come. I talk about my everyday life, but I spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the things that make me sad. I've described some of the abuse I've experienced. At one point I was certain that I would triumph over everything, and somehow impossibly nullify everything that has happened to me. Of course, I knew that wouldn't happen. I had no idea what the eventual outcome would be. I didn't want this one.

Acceptance. It still feels a bit like defeat. In spite of the fact that I know I'm not defeated, accepting what life has given me feels sort of miserable.

Between the ages of four and nine, I have been molested by three different people on three different occasions, two episodes happening in church restrooms, the other in my own home. Accept that.

At age eleven I was raped more than once by an older cousin in my own bed and left to clean up the mess. I was tired and aching and terribly lonely and sad. I wanted someone to save me, to take care of me. No one did. Accept that.

As a small child I wanted to be held, cuddled, loved. I wasn't. I wanted my mother to love me as I adored her. She didn't. I understand all the reasons I didn't receive that blessing. I bear her no malice--nor my father who was gone during that time. I am left with a deficit in my being and no way to fill it. Accept that.

For whatever reason, I was emotionally and physically abused by my mother until I left home at seventeen. I understand that this was not because I was "bad", and even she has admitted that I tried desperately to bridge the gap between us until I finally gave up and endured whatever happened. As an adult I have tried to make a parent/child relationship--a healthy one--with my mother. It is something she neither fosters, nor wishes for. Our friendship is very nice. It is all that is possible for us. Accept that.

Because of the events of my life, I live with PTSD. Sometimes it's very manageable. I feel strong and capable and confident. Other times I believe everyone in my life wishes to hurt me--especially those who love me the most. I am difficult and frustrated in those times. Sometimes I pick fights or I isolate myself. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I want someone to save me--but there is nothing from which I need to be saved, unless it if from myself. Sometimes I have nightmares and flashbacks. Accept that.

I have difficulty with any kind of intimacy, physical or emotional. Sometimes, my poor scarred body still bleeds when I have a flashback, still feels pain even though I haven't been abused in many years. In the times when I should feel valued and comfortable by people who have loved me through the trauma of the past two years, I feel afraid and vulnerable. My head tells me they won't hurt me. My heart doesn't believe. The abuse and violence seems to have molded me into a being incapable of accepting love and trusting that it will continue. I have worked hard to combat this. In my marriage I've had some success, but not a lot. This is probably how I will feel in any relationships for the rest of my life. Accept that.

And so, I accept the things that I cannot change. This is supposed to bring me peace. Instead it makes me ache with what might have been, what should have been. It makes me resentful. No child deserves my childhood. It makes me look at the story I've been avoiding most of my life, and I accept it. But I hate it. And I want it to be different.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The wildflowers are blooming purple, yellow, and white around my running track. They're tiny, close to the ground, growing in clusters which make colored patches on the ground. I can't stop looking at them while I lovely...promising spring...

So today while I was admiring their beauty, I crashed. And naturally, I had an audience who ran to help me up--and naturally, he decided I must need company for the rest of my run--just in case I became mesmerized by the flowers again. Does no one understand that I am completely capable of taking care of myself and I am anything but fragile? Can't we just chalk up a fall to poor judgment and klutziness?

Yes, I am ungraceful when offered kindness...well...I'm just ungraceful, in general.

But the wildflowers are blooming. This makes me very happy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nephews and more

I'm watching my nephews (18 months and 3 years) for a little while today. We went outside where they threw dirt at each other and ate ants. I figured, as long as they were enjoying themselves and baths were available, it was okay. Nevermind the fact that I probably wouldn't have allowed my own kids to do the same. It's okay to have a double standard for nephews. The oldest one ran around the yard and found sticks to wave. Unfortunately, his definition of "stick" is anything made of wood. He picked up an old board and now has a splinter in his finger. He won't allow me to do anything but look at it and say how sorry I am that it hurts. I think he might let my dad take it out when he comes. Maybe.

Tomorrow DJ will have an ultrasound, echo cardiogram, and too many blood tests. His blood pressure has been elevated for nearly a year now, steadily climbing until this week it hit 155 over 99. He says he feels fine, so I'm hoping it's nothing to worry about--but still impossible not to worry. DJ has been pure sunshine from the time he was born. He's just easy-going and sweet, loves to laugh, read, be with friends...I don't like it when things aren't right with his health.

Darrin has been home this week--which is so nice. He leaves for more training next week and we're not sure if he'll be allowed to come home for DJ's graduation. Sometimes corporations forget that employees have lives beyond work. Darrin said he'd keep reminding them that he needs to be back by the 29th. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Adam had his last post-surgery check this week. Everything looks good. He's been really tired lately, but says he feels good.

Tabitha finally got her room cleaned. It took a year. I'm not exaggerating. I did not help this time. It's still not up to my standard, but I'll help her organize and finish the details (that's the really yucky part). She's promised to stop collecting candy wrappers and used tissues (ick!), and I have a feeling that under-the-bed still hosts some scary things. We'll get to that next week, I think.

I play for one more concert tonight, then for a competition on Saturday, then my performances for May are finished. I think it's time for a break.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Friendships and emotional intimacy

In the last few conversations I've had with people on this topic, I'm noticing a trend (this does not include my conversation with you, Hirk--remember, you're exempt from anything I post here). One of the ways I figure things out is to talk with others--to hear their opinions--to weigh the evidence--to draw conclusions. This has worked beautifully as I've tried to deal with feelings which crop up as I remember my past. But as I try to solve my problems concerning friendships and emotional intimacy, one thing has become abundantly clear. Everyone's tired of me talking about it. Interestingly, if I wait until we've been talking about it for about five minutes, then bring up something Therapist has said, without exception, each person has directed me to talk to Therapist. There is a palpable relief behind their words. I can hear them thinking, "Thank the Lord for Therapist. She can pay him to discuss this topic."

Given that I'm fairly good about recognizing when a subject has become unwelcome, and that I'm an expert at shutting up about things that affect me personally, I will post this final entry and then, for all intents and purposes, the subject is closed. I will no longer speak of it here, in chats or email, nor in person.

But I'm going to just say a couple of things. My way of concluding this particular chapter.

When I posted about my fear of sharing advice, Molly Sue responded in a comment. I don't know Molly Sue. I tried to visit her blog, but it's private. I like what she has said on my blog and I'm glad she visits. This time she said this:

"There is an aspect of this that is very important...choosing NOT to tell him means that you collude with him to keep you both powerless. He may need to know that he is missing his mark in some areas of his life and your choosing not to tell him is as destructive to him and to your friendship. Well, more so. It does no one any favors. And no one grows or evolves."
I'm certain that she's right. Tolkien Boy, himself, concurs with her:
Tolkien Boy: I have received an enormous amount of advice how to clean up my life this weekend, and doubtless something settled in beneficially.
me: I hope you received it from people who were speaking from experience and who have spotless lives.
Tolkien Boy: It was from people who meant well. (Insert good advice from various wonderful Tolkien Boy friends)
me: Why did they tell you those things?
Tolkien Boy: They could see I was miserable. And people like to help, if they can.
Except...I don't. I find that most advice is taken with cynicism at best, derision at worst. If I feel the need to give advice, it's usually because I care so much about a person it almost aches--but that's when I normally hold my tongue the most. I'm aware that nothing I say will help the situation, nor will knowing that I love them and wish I knew what to do to bring joy to their lives. So...I say nothing.

Perhaps that's wrong. Possibly, I could help a friend keep from making a mistake, better his/her life, know that I wish to be with them no matter what the difficulty. But more than likely I'll be thought a meddling know-it-all, who really knows nothing. And quite honestly, even if I was helpful, that would not be as memorable as if they worked things out for themselves.

I've drawn some conclusions in my epiphanic growth, and in my stunted recent conversations. I'm realizing that there are times when people can be hurt beyond healing, and it's very possible that I will never understand human interaction, nor appropriate response in a situation where it might be a good idea to help a friend. It's very possible that in the events that shaped who I am today, my ability to trust was battered to death. There's a good chance that I can never experience the closeness and intimacy that real friends feel after years of knowing each other, simply because that is no longer a part of who I am.

But I got close. There were moments when I truly thought I could have the types of relationships I see around me. And I tried like crazy. If it had been possible to solve this problem through charts, graphs, analysis, data harvesting, or poll samples, I would have succeeded beautifully.

That's all, I suppose. My apologies to those I harried with my eternal questions, conversations, and debates about this topic. When you talk to me again, I have a list of subjects which will be more comfortable for us both.

The morning after

It is gorgeous today! Already 50 degrees and it's not even 7:30 a.m. We're expecting a high of 57 degrees and it's supposed to cloud up and snow tomorrow, BUT STILL!!! I'm going to go for a run in about fifteen minutes to enjoy the fleeting warmth that fools us into believing spring is here to stay.

Last night our recital went beautifully. Sully and DJ were our page turners and in one piece (comical) they got pulled in to help play. They hammed it up and the audience loved them. I was able to play the piece that was giving me trouble because of hand fatigue. I think my partner was a little surprised because for the first time she messed up--in an easy part. She was aggravated and I responded by making several unusual mistakes because I was trying not to laugh. However, it looks like we might get a chance to redeem ourselves. We've been asked to do a repeat performance in a different location and I think, if everything can be worked out, we're going to do it.

And today I'm tired. The good tired--where you've worked hard and enjoyed the payoff and now it's time to rest. I've finished most of my performances for awhile. I have to play in Denver for some choir competitions, then I accompany a recital, then I get a break for a few weeks.

Darrin's new job takes him away from us a lot. He's usually gone somewhere, but we never really know where that will be until the day before he leaves. It's stressful for everyone, but hopefully, won't last beyond six more months. He's supposed to have another intensive training session that will last a couple of weeks and be back East. He asked his boss not to schedule it the last week of May because that's DJ's graduation and his family will be here. She got a little testy and told him he could always call in sick. I have a feeling that even if he does that, the company won't be willing to fly him back home. And--just as I feared--I'll be playing hostess to my in-laws without him. This, too, shall pass.

I am learning things about myself once again. I went to lunch with Sully a few days ago. We were talking about some of the things that bother me less today than they have in the past few years.
1. Shaking hands. I'm okay with it now. I don't love it. I'd rather not do it. But it doesn't make me as uncomfortable as it used to, and I'll even offer my hand sometimes.
2. Elevators. Given a choice, I'll still take the stairs, be it two or two hundred floors. But riding doesn't make me wish to run to the doors and pry them open while the elevator is moving, anymore. I'd say that's a step in the right direction.
3. Feelings about my cousin. I feel very peaceful about this. For awhile I thought going to see him had been a waste of time. I walked away from that experience feeling pretty awful. But I was able to finally look at him as he is and I'm not afraid anymore. I've done more research, I understand the condition in which he lived, I recognize that he was young (15), and I believe under different circumstances he would have made a different choice in his treatment of me. I do not have any concern about meeting him at a family gathering. I don't want to seek him out again or be his best friend, but I'm okay with letting him live. :)
4. Feelings about my mother. Barring yesterday, I'm good with this. I have to concede that no matter what happened in my childhood, she tries hard to make our relationship today a good one. She likes to chat with me. She tells me, occasionally, that she loves me, and I believe her. I understand that what I wish for is not going to happen and I'll take whatever she can offer. Sometimes it's difficult. I watched my recital partners last night, after our performances. Their moms rushed to the stage and hugged them. A couple of moms teared up with pride. They even came to me and hugged me, they were so overwhelmed with watching their grownup children perform well. My mom came, but she left right after the performance. She'll tell me today that I did a good job. And she'll mean it. But it's different. She feels no pride in parenthood. In essence, I'm not her child. I understand that things are the way they are. In time, I'll no longer wish for the things I see others receiving from their mothers. In time, I'll stop seeking for maternal love in other people. When that time comes, I'll know I'm better.

Unfortunately, the one thing that I can't seem to overcome is my inability to trust or connect with people. I told Sully I'd never felt insecure in my friendship with him, which isn't strictly true. But ours has been a unique relationship. For a long time I was simply a support person for him, one to whom he could say anything, express feelings he felt were negative but which needed to be said. As our friendship evolved, I allowed him to know more about me and sometimes I shared with him things that were important to me. At this point I think we've both learned how to balance the deeply important things with the fun parts that make us laugh. I don't feel trepidation that he'll abandon me--perhaps because I've never believed he would stay. I assumed I served a temporary purpose in his life, and that when the purpose had been served he would move on, hopefully feeling happy that I had been there. Now I realize I can't predict the future, make assumptions about how he feels, or decide whether he will stay or go. Interestingly, I'm comfortable with that. I think I need to figure out how to get to that point in all my relationships, especially those which I would like to have for a long time.

I've been very busy for the past few months. Part of this was contrived. I was overwhelmed by some of the changes that were happening in my life, specifically changes in some of my closer relationships. I needed something to distract me because I truly did not know how to cope with the feelings that were overwhelming me. Work is a good distraction because it keeps me busy while offering me validation on some level. I needed to succeed in some area because I felt I was failing in my attempts at building healthy friendships. There's no reason for the feeling of failure--it just was. Because I could neither explain nor alter it, I needed to place my energy elsewhere.

I'm not sure what will happen next in this area. I've accepted the fact that I may never feel comfortable with people and that discomfort may never allow me to connect as I'd like to. It's frustrating, and I'll probably keep trying until I die. But it's nice to know there are a few people who will forgive and keep trying with me.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Counting the hours

Yesterday I experienced hand fatigue. This has never happened to me before. I was astounded. Then I started adding up my playing time:

1. Daily practice for a couple of hours.
2. Accompanying 2 hours daily, Monday - Thursday.
3. Playing for Festival students (17) = 2 hour rehearsals Friday and Monday, Festival Tuesday afternoon (two more hours).
4. Two hour rehearsal for recital on Sunday.
5. Two hour rehearsal for recital on Tuesday.
6. Two hour rehearsal for recital on Wednesday.
7. Four hour rehearsal for recital on Thursday.
8. Two hour rehearsal on Friday morning at which point my hands said, "ENOUGH!"

So I gave them the rest of the day off on Friday, but I have rehearsal this afternoon and my recital is tomorrow. They're still feeling really tired today. I'm very nervous. I had no idea I was playing so much.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Two years ago my most vivid and important memories began when I was around seventeen years old. It was at that point that I left my home, returning only briefly for weekend visits every three or four months. I remember the day I arrived at my first job. I would live and work on the site. My mother drove me to the location. We arrived after a couple of very silent hours. I got out of the car, hauled out my suitcase with the only belongings I felt like taking from my home, threw a hand-stitched quilt from my grandmother over my shoulders and tucked my pillow under my arm. I looked at her still seated in the car, and awkwardly thanked her for the ride. She asked if I would be all right. I said I supposed so. My mother nodded, put the car in gear, and drove away.

I stood rooted to the spot, not quite knowing what to do next. I had never met my employers. The job had been arranged through a friend. A young man walked by. He said, "You look lost." I answered that I felt lost. He walked over, picked up my suitcase and asked if I was a new employee. I nodded. He said, "You'll need to meet Mr. and Mrs. Harris." He took me to the dorms, waited while I left my belongings, then took me to his supervisor. She called Mrs. Harris who arranged to meet me at breakfast the following morning (at 5:30 a.m.), then showed me my bunk and quarters in the dorms. I never saw the young man again.

I had never lived away from home before and was unprepared for the loneliness I felt. At home, regardless of the toxic abuse situation, I always had at least four siblings to work or play with and I had developed a closeness with my three younger sisters. I had been completely surprised that I was sorry to see my mother leave. I suppose I had expected a hug--although I'm not certain why. I could not remember ever receiving a hug from her. There was a feeling that she was glad to have me gone. That was not a good feeling.

I did not adjust to my new condition quickly. My bunk mate was more than ten years older than I, and sort of unusual, and within two days I had caught a respiratory virus and was miserable. Bunk mate became concerned for me, purchased some cough medicine and doctored me each morning and night, so that I could work during the day. In the meantime, I had been partnered with a young woman a couple of years older than I (the youngest at the work site until I arrived), and we quickly became friends. She made arrangements for me to move to her dorm and we became bunk mates. At that point, the summer passed quickly and wonderfully. I made many friends. We arranged our days off so that we could camp, shop, go to movies and explore Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole.

I suppose I came into my own that summer. I made decisions about my life which I have adhered to from that point forward. I learned things about myself. I became independent in a way that was positive and healthy. I had no desire to return to my home life--ever.

My memories after this point in my life replaced those of my teen years and childhood. When I began therapy, I was hard-pressed to remember anything prior to this. I realize now that this was a conscious choice, although, at the time, it didn't seem so. Now, after more than two years, I have allowed many of the memories to return--good and bad. The process of allowing and accepting the memories was painful. I did not want them.

I'm learning, as I sift through my past, that many of my quirks have developed in response to these memories. I don't like it, nonetheless, it's true and I do not turn from reality regardless of how much it may hurt. Occasionally, something seemingly unrelated leads me back to memories I previously disregarded. For example, today I found myself talking with Tolkien Boy. This used to be a daily and sometimes nightly pleasure. Now, if I have a complete conversation with him every couple of weeks or so, that's something rare. We've both become rather busy, and as I predicted more than a year ago, life has taken us over. It's the inevitable outcome of all my friendships, but I had hoped to change this part of my life. I've not been able to do so.

However, in my brief online brush with TB, I found myself blithely imparting unsolicited advice. Fortunately, TB had to run away before I truly got warmed up, and he thanked me for my advice, alerting me to the fact that I was giving it and causing me all sorts of dismay and embarrassment. As a rule, I dislike sharing my personal opinions about anything, especially in the form of advice. I find it judgmental and rude, and quite honestly, of all the people in this world, I'm the last person qualified to judge or advise in any capacity.

In the spirit of reconciliation, I sent TB a retraction and an apology, to which he replied, "What about giving advice frightens you?"

What frightens me?

Unbidden memories began to crop up. As a child, I was paraded in front of extended family and friends because I was bright and beautiful. I could recite many things from memory. I sang. I danced. I was precocious. If I was performing, I was perfect. If I offered an original thought, I was sent away. This pattern continued as long as I lived at home. I learned quickly never to allow people to know what I truly thought. I offered no opinions.

I realize now that this still permeates my social interactions. There are few people with whom I feel comfortable expressing myself. I have done so anonymously on this blog, but if you meet me in person, probably I won't. But expressing my opinion doesn't really frighten me. I feel discomfort but not fear.

So...what frightens me about giving advice to people who are important to me? I care about them, deeply. I want them to enjoy being with me. I don't want them to leave me. But more than that, I do not wish to be dismissed. TB is in an interesting spot with me because I've been analyzing a particular aspect of our friendship now for about a year--with no significant progress. It's something which makes me vulnerable to him--which I absolutely hate--something which, unless I can figure it out and become comfortable with it, will no doubt encourage me to spend less and less time with him. I don't want that.

I expressed what I was thinking to him today. I advised him about an innocuous part of his life. And I am a child again--waiting to be sent away until the next time I am asked to perform for him.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"...the sieve of vanity..."

Yesterday I went to work without putting on any makeup. This is not really a big deal, as daily makeup, for me, consists of...mascara. And the only reason I wear it is because my mother told me if I didn't, the tips of my eyelashes would become sun bleached and I would not look like I had eyelashes anymore. And I believed her because her eyelashes are short and stubby, so I suppose, at my young age, I assumed she was speaking from experience.

But now I'm a grownup. And I know better. I realize that genetics gave me a lovely set of long, dark eyelashes (which I passed on to Tabitha and Adam...sorry DJ...yours are blondish brown...but still, very thick and long, so I did try), and they gave her short, stubby light eyelashes. It had nothing to do with the sun, although I suppose sun bleached eyelashes are not an impossibility.

With my grownup knowledge, however, has not come adult reasoning. I still wear mascara daily. I do wear more makeup if I'm performing, or going to something special and I feel I can bow to the demands of social custom, but not every day. That's too much. And since I don't really listen to my mother about anything anymore, one would think I could make it through one day without being uncomfortable sans mascara. I couldn't. Call me a creature of habit.

Or perhaps I'm just vain.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Today's Mystery

I have a sore on my forearm. It's narrow, about a quarter-inch wide and and inch long. It sort of looks like a burn that had the blister rubbed off. In fact, it feels a bit like a burn.

Except, I haven't been near anything that would burn me.

And I don't remember scraping it.

And it's not bleeding, it's just deep and it hurts.

I think there's a possibility that I was abducted by aliens last night.

Pray for me.

Um...don't direct your prayers to the aliens, please.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"If you could forget..."

Someone whined at me recently because I allow people to comment on my blog without responding to what they say. I was reprimanded for my lack of consideration and allowing my visitors to feel ignored. I reminded said person that the purpose of my blog was to allow me expression in a forum where I feel comfortable talking about any subject, not to garner fans or readership. He asked me if I had ever been helped or comforted by things people have said on my blog. I admitted I had. He rolled his eyes at me.

So, feeling sufficiently chastised, I offer my apologies to any who have left comments for me who have felt ignored. I promise, I truly have read everything said here, and much of it has been helpful. Some things that are said send me on another tangent which brings me to a discovery I might not have made otherwise. In truth, this journey I have made has been a group effort, with the membership changing often. I believe only Jason remains of those who have read my blog from its inception, although I think AtP has me on his Google Reader and scans my horrendously long posts for his name so he can see that I still adore him. But there are many who have joined me in the past couple of years, some of whom comment regularly, some less often. For those of you who take time to speak to me--thank you.

Often a comment is made which leaves me thinking for quite awhile. This happened recently. JB said this:
I've heard some interesting things they're able to do with mind-altering drugs recently. Specifically, the ability to make people forget certain things. If you could forget the god-awful things that have happened to you (just the worst of them), would you? I think I would if I were in your circumstances, but I'm curious if there's any reason you wouldn't.
I've thought about this a lot, and I'm finally ready to answer. The short answer is no.

The long answer with all its explanation is that first of all, I don't trust anything that alters my reality. It sucks to remember sometimes, but they're my memories. They happened. Part of my reason for writing this blog and making it public is that I was tired of living in denial, tired of protecting everyone from the knowledge that was killing me, tired of hiding. It seemed that the only way I could honor the ways in which I survived was to talk about what happened--to allow it to become real. In order to restore the dignity I was robbed of, I needed to admit that I had been hurt, allow myself to live with the reality, grieve what had been taken from me, and believe that my life could be beautiful in spite of it all. I also had to come to believe that what happened to me did not define me--that was very difficult.

As I've faced the things that have made me afraid for much of my life, I recognize that I have many strengths which have allowed me to live even when I wished to die. I understand that I have worth which is inherent and is not negated by the mistreatment a few people felt free to inflict on me when I was too young to fight back. But in my own way, I have fought back. By speaking up, by meeting with those who abused me and treating them with dignity and kindness, by refusing to quit, by continuing to love, by finding joy in every day, I have emerged victorious. That is something I cannot relinquish.

So--to lose the memory might bring me the sleep I keep whining about. It might help me stop feeling that I must always be alert and protect myself. It might help me more easily deepen relationships and learn to trust. But those are things I believe I might find one day on my own. And they will be of even greater value to me because I will understand what I had to sacrifice in order to gain them. And I will become stronger as I work through the necessary obstacles to claim those experiences and attributes.

This doesn't mean I wouldn't change things if I could because I would definitely love to rewrite my past. It just means that I would rather deal with reality than live without knowing. And something inside me believes that if I were in a chemically induced forgetfulness, many of the physical and emotional problems I now experience would make even less sense and cause me more anxiety. For me, regardless of how difficult, it is better to know.

There are many whose experiences have been much worse than mine. There are those who have not been blessed with people to help them along the way, as I have been. There are some who have been hurt beyond repair. For those, perhaps, drugs to help them forget might be helpful. But for me--as always--I will do it myself. It's just who I am. I accept the good and the bad, and all the peripheral side-effects. And I'm okay with that.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Defining my own existence

I am experiencing an epiphanic growth spurt. Don't bother to look the word up because it is completely fabricated by me, and as such, will also be defined by me. Basically, an epiphanic growth spurt is when one begins to understand illuminating, but not necessarily complimentary things about oneself. We all experience them. They are a normal part of adult life. If you haven't yet hit epiphanic puberty, don't worry, you will. Whether or not you admit to it remains to be seen.

As I'm still searching through all that I'm learning about myself, I don't really wish to discuss it in detail. Suffice it to say, I'm not terrifically happy with the revelations, or epiphanies. It's a little disconcerting and I don't like it. However, it's good to establish practical realism before deciding how to proceed. And that's enough about that.

I told Tabitha about this today, and she said I needed to blog it--so I'm sharing this next part in her honor.

Today I was running on my treadmill. We're having a freak winter storm (very freaky as the birds keep making noise even while it snows and the wind blows--it's odd), and I'm a wuss, so I don't want to run outside. Running in a snow storm is cold and slippery and causes wet clothes which, in turn, cause chafing, and that's just not fun. So as I said, I was running indoors on my treadmill when it stopped. I had only gone about 2.5 miles, so I wasn't happy that it stopped. I turned it off and on, hoping it would start again. I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Nothing. Sadly, I reminded myself that I've had this treadmill for more than eight years and I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of it. It's not a bad thing to replace stuff. Still, I didn't want to.

Finally, I decided to go shower. I walked to my bathroom and turned on the light...nothing. I thought, Is everything breaking today? I flipped the switch a couple of times before it dawned on me that the electricity was out. For the next fifteen minutes I wavered between aggravation that I'd have to shower in the dark and happiness that I wouldn't have to buy a new treadmill. Then I just felt silly for not noticing in the first place.

The end.

P.S. This storm really is odd. The wind is noisy...the birds are snows...then it rains...the clouds are kind of thin so the sun shines through and makes everything sort of glow...I want it to stop.