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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Tabitha: There's a boy in the seventh grade who's from Mexico. He doesn't speak much English. So Gabriela's little sister has to follow him around and translate for him.

Me: That doesn't sound right. He should have a paraprofessional of some sort assigned to him. 

Tabitha: Well, usually Bishop Rinehardt goes with him and translates.

Me: I thought Bishop Rinehardt was a math teacher.

Tabitha: He is. But he also speaks Spanish.

Me: Really? I didn't know that!

Tabitha: Mom!! He's the transient bishop!!

Me: Yes, he is.

Tabitha: So??? That means he speaks Spanish.

Me: Tabitha, do you know what "transient" means?

Tabitha: Nope!

Me: I didn't think so.


Tabitha: Oh, by the way, Mom, we're having New Beginnings tomorrow night. I have a part on the program. You can come if you want to.

Me: Really? Am I invited?

Tabitha: Yeah. Parents are supposed to attend.

Me: Why haven't I heard anything about this before now?

Tabitha (looking sheepish): Ummm...I'm supposed to give you an invitation?

Me: That would be good. Where's the invitation?

Tabitha: Somewhere in my room.

Me: Okay, nevermind.

Tabitha: I'll find it!

Two hours later I am presented with a somewhat crumpled but still legible invitation. 

Tabitha: You don't have to come if you're busy.

Me: I'll come.

Tabitha: Oh, good. Sorry about the short notice.

Me: What else is in your room that you've forgotten to give me.

Tabitha: Nothing. I promise. Except, I borrowed your black shirt again. And your tank top. And your skirt.

Me: I see. Make sure they're in the laundry by 8:00 tonight?

Tabitha: Deal.

Proof that one needs more sleep

1. Newly invented words like "slusters" and "gental" make complete sense.
2. Mythical creatures appear in one's peripheral vision.
3. "Privacy Policy" looks like "Hokey Pokey". 

I gotta take a nap.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Adam is my child most like me in temperament. There are some physical characteristics that only he and I share, as well: earlobes connected at the base, eyes that squintily disappear when we laugh (and sometimes when we smile), and hand shape (square palms). We have similar senses of humor, but I don't believe the boy shares the tiniest percent of my logic. He has an affinity for both math and language, as I do, and we both are lamentable when it comes to world geography. I'm can guess with a 10 - 15% margin of error, what he's thinking, planning, or doing, which has led Adam to believe that I have some sort of supernatural powers. Perhaps he's right.

Adam turned fifteen this month. He's old enough to obtain a driving permit. He had thought I would just take him to the DMV and allow him to take the test, and then he could start driving. He should have known better.

My children have been raised with the knowledge that privileges are earned and can be removed, should irresponsibility in the area of any specific privilege manifest itself. Adam forgot that driving is a privilege. He forgot that in order for me to trust him behind the wheel of my car, I have to be able to trust him in all areas of his regular life. And he has to show me that he is able to be responsible for himself before I'll allow him to drive--which in essence makes him responsible for the safety of himself, passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers (I know you're all wishing that you had been present for this particular imparting of information in lecture form). It is unfortunate that Adam forgot, because now he has a trial period in which he must show himself worthy of obtaining a driving permit. 

Things Adam must do before I take him to get the coveted item:
1. Get himself up in the morning--fifteen-year-olds who are responsible enough to drive, are also responsible to learn how to set an alarm and get up when it goes off. This item is also accompanied by the understanding that the early morning arousal will be timely enough to get Adam to seminary on time. When he has done this for three weeks, the prerequisite will be filled. However, if at any time after the permit has been obtained, I feel that he has stopped fulfilling this responsibility in a timely manner, the permit will be surrendered and all driving privileges suspended until I determine he has acted in such a way that would prove he is willing to take upon himself the responsibility once again.
2. Stop eating in his bedroom. We have two rooms in which it is permissible to eat: The dining room, and the family room. We eat occasionally in the family room if we watch a family movie during dinner, or if we have a snack while we play games or watch television. Once monthly, during group lessons, he is allowed to eat in my piano studio with the other students when I serve food to them. Eating in bedrooms is strictly prohibited for the following reasons:
a) My dishes start to disappear which is a source of incredible frustration.
b) Food trash goes into the bedroom waste basket and begins to decay, causing an awful smell which I cannot tolerate.
c) People identify eating with specific rooms--and when they enter those rooms, they feel an urge to eat regardless of whether or not they are hungry (if you don't believe me, walk into your kitchen right now and notice where your mind wanders--it will immediately wonder what you have to munch on in your cupboard or fridge). Eating should not be associated with bedrooms. Sleeping should be, and homework and relaxation, but not food. While this habit has nothing to do with driving, per se, it has enormous impact on my ability to trust that while he is learning to drive, Adam will not disregard my instructions. If he has difficulty obeying house rules, chances are he'll try to disobey the rules of the road--unacceptable from this instructor who will be riding in the passenger seat.
3. Maintain good grades (As and Bs only are acceptable) and plan to get a job to help offset the cost of insurance and gas consumption, vehicle maintenance and repair. My whole focus in raising my children is to help them learn independence. If they believe Mom and Dad will provide for all their needs indefinitely, that's a step in the wrong direction. If they wish to have driving privileges, they will need to shoulder driving responsibility. This includes fiscal responsibility. 

When presented with these guidelines last month, Adam enthusiastically agreed they were reasonable and well within his ability to achieve. Then the month progressed. Adam refused to get himself up for seminary, his grades overall were fine, but he persisted in getting Cs in health and teetering on the low B edge in English (because he's certain he can do everything at the last minute--bad idea). The immediate consequence for eating in his bedroom is one dishwasher loading for each utensil and dish I find in his room. He currently owes me five loads of clean dishes. 

I tightened the screws this week. I told him that at 6:30 every morning I would be doing one of the following: 
1. Driving Adam to seminary because he was ready on time (on his own steam, not because I awoke him and made him move).
2. Going for a run because I get an extra 10 minutes since Adam chose to stay in bed and not get ready.
He called my bluff this morning. At 6:25 Adam rolled out of bed. At 6:29 I called everyone for prayer. Adam blustered that he still had one minute and could definitely be ready in time. I rolled my eyes at him, said the prayer and got on my treadmill, telling Adam and Tabitha that I'd be driving kids to school at 7:30. 

At 6:40 Adam called, "See you, Mom! Have a good day!" And then he walked to seminary in a snowstorm. I've decided, since he got himself up and made it to seminary sort of on time, that I'll let him count today. After all, I have to make some concessions. I actually do want him to learn to drive.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

1969 Scooby-Doo Where Are You? Intro

Today my kids and I spent four hours watching OLD cartoons and eating popcorn. I love Scooby Doo. So glad they have DVD's of cartoons that came out a million years ago.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I wonder about them. Each day seems to be defined by moments of delight, sadness, anger, fear...

I believe it's time for me to let some moments pass away. I've been clinging to them for a long time. It's difficult not to dwell on them when one is constantly reminded. But too often I have allowed myself to be governed by such memories and I have lost opportunities to enjoy current moments.

Not long ago I would stop in my tracks to take in a sunset. I have not done that for awhile. I've tried--I've even tried to share a sunrise or sunset with people I love. They don't see what I see. And how can they? They draw upon their own moments as they watch their surroundings. 

When I was young I would sit from the moment color stained the sky until it became the brilliant blue of a new day, or faded to the quietly peaceful blackness of night. In moments of despair I would fantasize that I was a part of it, intensifying in color and light until I was swallowed up by a blue or black expanse, untouchable, achingly beautiful, but only visible for a moment.

My daughter asked me once why I love blue flax flowers. I told her I loved the color, and they smelled good, which is certainly true, but my penchant for identifying with things non-human extends to that intense love for the flowers. They grow in the most unlikely, unwelcoming places. They spring up without abundant water, their flexible stems bend in high winds while five fragile petals cling to the tiny stigma. They grow in clusters of intense blue with an occasional deviant bunch of clean white. They survive hailstorms, flash floods, unseasonal snow and frost. But if plucked for a vase, within minutes the petals have fallen and the beauty is destroyed. 

I am like that. Determined to live regardless of the ugly moments. Surviving storms sent by life, enduring the coldness of random loneliness. Bending to adapt and thrive. Exhibiting the natural colors of my species while admitting to occasional deviance from the norm. But I cannot survive being plucked from my stem, moving from the roots of the convictions which sustain me.

I have spent the past two years reliving moments I wish to release. In the process, I have gathered moments of sweetness and sustenance from people I love, from my surroundings, from God. And yet, I talk only of the moments I do not wish to keep, without acknowledging the joy of the moments filled with laughter, embraces, gentle touches, encouragement, sympathy, and love. 

My blue flax is perennial. Some consider it a weed. Year after year it blooms. I've had a couple of barren springs. It's time to prepare to blossom once again.

Oh my goodness! The wind!!

I live in a windy place. I chose it partly because of the wind. I have chemical-induced asthma and living in valleys which trap smog and allow it to stay for days on end results in my being home bound until it finally begins to move out. When we lived in the Bay Area, there were sometimes weeks when I was unable to be outside for more than a few moments, and being indoors is depressing.

So--we chose a place which has perpetual air current, few people, no factories, little traffic...basically, a rural, windy, isolated community in which I could thrive. The result is that I've been free of an asthma attack for nearly fifteen years. My cardiovascular system has become so strong that I'm even able to visit places of poor air quality and I'm fine, usually, for a couple of days. If we stay longer I may have to use my inhaler a few times, but things are back to normal when we return home.

I love the freedom of being able to live without carrying an inhaler. I love clear lungs, uninterrupted sleep, and taking breathing for granted. However, biannually, for about three weeks, the lovely perpetual breeze becomes a howling wind. The first day is exhilarating. Everyone remarks about it and laughs. But by day four we're all out of sorts and wishing for the wind to blow itself out and leave us alone. Unfortunately, it takes longer than four days for that to happen.

Personally, I don't mind the strong winds. They don't usually pick up till around 10:00 a.m. and I've had my early morning run by that time. And they die down in the evening, so I can take a walk then if I choose. But right now the wind blows twenty-four hours, seven days a week. It disturbs our sleep, brings unusual presents into our yard, and is a general nuisance. At this point, the worst part is the noise. The incessant howling is throwing me into a generally bad temper. I've tried drowning it out with music and wearing ear plugs, but I know it's there, which is the same as  hearing it.

So I've been whining about the noise, and the cold, and all the other inconveniences of our windy weeks...and this morning at 7:30 a.m. the wind stopped. It's way too quiet. I detest white noise, and yet I find myself frantically doing laundry and running my dishwasher so the noise of the appliances will temper the silence. 

One would think I would just enjoy the relief. Perhaps tomorrow I will.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I am not a fanciful person. I love to read fantasy and fiction. I like to imagine things. But I'm very certain what is real and what is not. As least...I used to be.

I don't know what it's like when other people have flashbacks. I've heard some say there's a lead up--they can feel it coming. I don't have that luxury. They just happen. I've heard some people say there's a frightening, dreamlike quality to their flashbacks. Mine are not like that. When they happen, I'm there. They only last a few seconds, I'm guessing. But it feels that in those tiny moments I've just relived hours of agony. If  you're with me, you won't know. The only outward sign I give anymore, is that if I'm walking, I might pause and seem disoriented for a moment. If we're talking, I might be silent. I like the camouflage of being in a small group. It simply seems as if I'm listening, or thinking about what someone else just said. It truth, I'm regrouping, reminding myself where I am, who I'm with, telling my body the hurt isn't real, taking deep breaths, waiting for fear to subside.

But at night it's a different story. I've been lucky to have Darrin with me because I have difficulty returning to reality when the nightmares occur. In truth, they're no different from the flashbacks. Same subject matter, same after effects. But the difference is that I wake to darkness, disoriented, unable to figure out where I am  or who I'm with. I'm usually combative, but if Darrin talks to me, within about five minutes I understand that I'm in the here and now. The tremors that follow are more severe and last longer than those I get in daytime flashbacks. But I usually don't cry. It's difficult to get back to sleep, too. I don't want to have another nightmare. Sleep is not restful at that point, it's terrifying.

But now Darrin is gone. And he'll be gone for a long time. I had hoped, maybe, I'd be able to use the process I once relied on to direct my dreams--but I can't seem to. At this point I'm doubting that it ever worked at all--although I know it did, I'm just discouraged. Last night I awoke from a nightmare. It took me nearly half an hour to become cognizant of my surroundings and then I was still very afraid. I tried to call Darrin (it was about 11:00 p.m.). He was sleeping, probably, because he didn't answer his phone. I felt silly for trying to bother him, and tried to sleep again. Miraculously, I did fall asleep, only to have an encore session of the nightmare. This time, when I finally became coherent, it was 11:30 p.m. That's not very much time between scenes of terror. I should learn to space them better. 

I couldn't go back to sleep. I waited to calm down. It didn't happen. I tried to read, walked on my treadmill, folded laundry--all the while haunted by the things I see in my sleep. Finally, around 12:45 a.m. I thought I'd see if anyone was awake. I texted a couple of people in a different time zone, hoping they might still be up. No answer. Then I sat down and felt thoroughly sorry for myself because they were all getting the kind of rest I needed, but I couldn't go back to sleep. I knew what was lurking there. 

So...I worked. I'm still working now. And even though I'm very aware that nothing that presents itself in my head is real, that doesn't mean I want to look at it again. So I'm not sure that I'll sleep tonight, either. Darrin gets back on January 30th. I'm thinking I'll go to sleep then.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


At the request of a persistent person, I've agreed to add labels. It may take me ten years.

Are you happy now?

It's not rocket science...more's the pity

This paragraph has nothing to do with my post topic:
Last night I was at a gathering with so many people I love--some of whom I haven't seen for awhile and only talked with sporadically over the past year. I've missed them--so if you were one of those with me last night, and I kept hugging you, just know that I'm making up for not being able to do it on a regular basis, and I love you. I also got to meet the parents of a friend, and they, Darrin, and I stayed up way too late talking and getting to know one another--I love doing that. Oh, and Danish Boy, I adore you, but I just have to say that picking me up off the ground when you hug me does not enhance my belief that I am Wonder Woman--in fact it makes me feel a bit less than super-heroine-ish, and it can't be good for your back. However, for one of your hugs, if that's a necessary component, I suppose I can sacrifice my all-powerful delusions for a few seconds. But I'm still worried about your back.

I was talking with Therapist a couple of months ago about some of the problems I have understanding people's motives as they interact with me. I'm suspicious when they're kind. I wonder if they're trying to hurt or deceive me in some way. These are not conscious thoughts, but feelings rumbling beneath the surface, and they usually only come into play when I don't feel in control of the relationship. I asked if I was a control freak. Therapist said no, I'm feeling the effects of PTSD, which often inhibit human interaction and relationships. He said that even though I seek out and allow intimacy in friendships and love relationships (and I do that, in his opinion, as a stubborn insistence that I will not allow myself to be controlled by a condition induced by my past), I still feel the symptoms such actions incite. That's beyond my control. And as as a result of feeling uneasy, I find myself acting in uncharacteristic ways sometimes.

I think he's probably right, but I asked him why I continue to have a core belief that I have nothing to contribute to any relationship. I've tried to rid myself of it, and all evidence points to the contrary, but it persists. Therapist believes this stems from messages I received as a child, and the sexual trauma I experienced sealed that belief in my heart. Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness are not uncommon in those who have experiences similar to mine. But the only place I feel those things are in interpersonal relationships. In the professional world, I feel powerful and capable. Socially, I don't worry about interacting with strangers (unless they touch me). But in times when I allow closeness with people I love, an inner battle takes place as my heart reminds my head that it's not good for them to be with me.

Obviously, I'm not listening to my heart, because I continue to seek out those I love. But I told Therapist that I don't understand why they stay. It makes sense to me that they would leave after awhile, but they don't. I recently visited a friend I had not seen nor spoken to for more than eight years. She told me she had missed me, asked why I disappeared, called me a liar when I made up an excuse, and listened to my labored explanation of what I've been through emotionally for the past decade. Then she insisted I hear of her harrowing experiences with an unfaithful husband, ugly divorce, molestation of one of her children (by a brother-in-law), and subsequent growth, blessings, and remarriage. Then she said, "Sam, don't disappear again. I needed you and you weren't there. I'll never not need you. I think, when you go through hard things, you should tell me, not stop talking." How about that. She forgave me for not being around when she needed me, then she invited me to stay in her life. Why?

I told Therapist I don't understand why people endure touch with me--especially Tolkien Boy who has had greater opportunity than others for such an experience. Therapist said if they don't draw back within sixty seconds, they're not enduring the touch, they're enjoying it. I told him I'm having difficulty understanding how people can enjoy touch from me. I even feel this in my interactions with Darrin. Any physical contact beyond holding his hand, kissing him briefly, or having his arm about me, is usually preceded by some sort of verbal "Is this okay?" from me. It's not that I feel I need permission to touch my husband, I just can't seem to make the leap into the belief that he actually wants and needs my touch and close proximity--even though my head knows he does.

I understand that I'm not explaining this well. I have difficulty verbalizing many of the dichotomous feelings and beliefs that live inside me. But Therapist knew what I was talking about, as he often does. He said, "I think you'll never understand why people want to have contact with you unless you ask them how they feel about it." I hate it when he says that. And I refused to do anything about his suggestion for nearly two months, although I made the attempt occasionally, got freaked out, and backed off sometimes to the point of not talking to anyone for a day or two.

But my need to know never goes away. And I finally got to the point where I had to know--and naturally, Tolkien Boy was my target because I talk to him often, he probably touches me as much as anyone else (excluding Darrin, of course, who should and does touch me more than any other person), and because I thought he might tell me, maybe. But I spent forever trying to ask the questions for which I wanted answers, and it was difficult. When I finally got to the point where I was coherently framing words, I believe what came out was something like this: "Why do you stay with me?" meaning, when we're physically together, why do you hold me when I'm upset or sad, or sometimes, neither, but just because we are together? He gave me the answers I knew he would...we're friends...he loves me... but I wanted more.

I said, "No. Why do you stay? What are you getting out of it?" That came out a bit more belligerently than I intended. But this was important to me. I had to know. His response was, "What are you getting out of it?" I was sure I'd told him on many occasions how I've been able to make connections, learn things about myself, and recognize that I could be empowered in intimate situations simply because he has taken the time to allow prolonged touch with me--the type that is uncolored by neediness, or sexuality, or haste. Just simple physical connection that endures longer than a brief hug. But he said I hadn't told him any benefits I gain from being with him in that way. So I began rattling off everything of importance to me that I gain in those circumstances--especially the amazing feelings of security, and being loved and valued just because I'm me. And when I was done he said simply, "And can you believe that those things you feel from me, I also feel from you?"

Therein lies the problem. I have difficulty believing that. I desperately want to, because then the relationship feels healthy and balanced. I can no longer feel that I'm not giving back, but simply taking selfishly. But as he always is, Therapist was right. Asking the question is the first step in learning to believe. And as is my tradition, I will ponder this for awhile. Tolkien Boy doesn't usually lie to me, nor I to him, unless we're classifying animals and I feel the need to giggle. So I have no reason to think he might be making something up to keep me from talking incessantly about this latest obsession. And he sounded as though he was sincere, although there's a part of me that's aggravated because he made me say all the reasons I enjoy being with him and he simply copped out by concurring. In spite of that, my head believes him. I'm still working on that obnoxious heart of mine.

Darrin is astounded that I feel even an iota of self-worthlessness. He points out that I interact with people all the time, many of whom seek me out. He wonders how such feelings can persist as I am confronted with daily evidence that I am loved and valued. 

I guess I just need to keep hearing the words. I have so many words from my past that I need to replace. Each time Sully tells me I'm important to him, every time AtP pops up with an "I love you" in my chat box, the fact that Ambrosia and others allow me to impose in their homes when I'm in traveling, my frequent interactions with Tolkien Boy and eternally long phone calls with Jason, as well as many other messages of love and acceptance are taking their toll. Someday, who knows? I might just learn how to trust all those things. And when I do, a large part of PTSD will no longer be bothersome or persistent

It's going to take some time, but I still plan to win. The difference today is that I'm understanding that I won't win alone. But just so you know, Therapist, even though I'm admitting once again that you're right--it still ticks me off. I really wanted to have a solo act and you've proved I not only need back-up, but I'm going to have to share the limelight with lots of people. And I suppose, in the end, I don't even get to choose who they are. It has to be a mutual decision. I believe, dear Therapist, you are a tyrant.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Adam: I don't want to go to France, ever. They have those weird squirt-bottle toilet thingies.

Darrin: You mean bidets?

DJ: They have real toilets, too. You don't have to use the bidets.

Adam: Why would anyone use them anyway. You just end up with a wet butt.

Darrin: There's usually a towel hanging nearby.

Me: And everyone uses that towel? Eeewww.

Darrin: What? Their behinds are clean--they just washed them.

Silence at the table as my children and I exchange horrified looks.

Adam: Well, I'm still not using them. Besides, what if someone put molasses in them? Then your behind will be all sticky.

Darrin: That's not possible. How are you imagining someone could put molasses in a bidet?

Me: WHY are you imagining someone would put molasses in a bidet?

Tabitha: Is molasses a plant?

Adam: It could happen. Someone could put it in the bidet tank, and then it would squirt out when you uses it.

Darrin: They can't either. The tank fills up from the same water supply used for drinking water, showers, everything.

Adam: They could put it in the whole city's water system.

Me: Molasses is not a plant.

Darrin: No they can't. It's not possible. There's not that much molasses.

Adam: I think they could.

Tabitha: What is it?

DJ: It's really thick syrupy stuff.

Darrin: Why would anyone do that?

Adam: It would be a really funny trick.

Tabitha: Is it made from Maple syrup?

Me: No. It's made from sugar cane.

Tabitha: Oh. So it's not a plant, but it's made from one.

Darrin: It wouldn't be funny.

Adam: Why do we have molasses then? No one really uses them.

Me: People actually do eat molasses.

Adam: Wait--molasses is a food?

Tabitha: Made from a plant. Yes.

Me: I think I'm going to go make brownies.

Darrin: I still want to know how you think you'd get molasses into the water system.

Adam: Can you put molasses in brownies?

Me: No. But you can put it in molasses cookies.

Darrin: Adam, you didn't answer my question.

Adam: I can't. I'm helping Mom make molasses cookies.

DJ: No. I want brownies.

Tabitha: Why were we talking about France?

DJ: Because that's where Dad went on his mission.

Darrin: That's not why we were talking about it. And we weren't really. We were talking about bidets.

DJ and Adam: We have to go now. Mom needs our help in the kitchen.

Tabitha: I'll stay and we can talk about bidets.

Darrin: No. The moment is gone.

Friday, January 2, 2009

An Email: Mine--with responses in red from Therapist

Sam: My thoughts in Red below:

I know you're online, and I could just chat with you, but it's New Year's, so you're at home and I don't want to disturb family time. So there's no hurry to answer my questions, I just want to send them now, while I'm thinking about them.

But before my questions, some background info:

First--as you knew I would, because I'm too desperate not to try every possible venue, I allowed Tolkien Boy to stay with me on Monday while I went through the nastiness I save up after each flashback. He sat with me and held my hand while my stupid body shook and I cried and I felt like a complete idiot. By the way--notice I let him hold my hand and I didn't even throw up, or feel like I was going to which is my usual reaction when people touch my skin following a flashback. Weird. And after everything was over I was too tired to care about feeling like an idiot, so I took him home, drove to a friend's house and went to sleep.

Second--I talked with Darrin about ways he can help me in similar circumstances. He suggests that even though he'll be gone this month, I should still call him after a flashback. He can talk to me when I'm not able to talk, and at least I'll have some connection to him. So we'll try that. I think I've been very angry that he'll be gone when I need him. I don't feel as angry about that today. Darrin also suggests that if he can't talk to me when I need him, I call someone else. I said I'd think about it.

Third--On Sunday I allowed a friend (female) to do that thing girls do constantly when they're together (except I never do)--I let her "scratch my back" during Relief Society, which in girl talk translates to just a very nice caress over the shoulders, upper, and middle back. And I wasn't afraid or threatened or nauseated by the touch. Granted, it was a very good friend who understands my silly phobias, and she asked permission first, but I would normally have said no--but I didn't. And some odd emotions manifested themselves. I felt triumphant that I was allowing normal "girl" touch and actually enjoying it in the way it should be enjoyed. I felt really sad that I've spent so much of my life not being able to participate in this part of female interaction without the sexual component getting in the way. I felt "normal."

So now the questions:
1. Is it too much to hope for to believe that some of the nastiness I've been carrying around is finally subsiding to the point where it no longer colors all my interactions with others--Nope, not too much to hope for or believe. It's actually what I expected to see happen as you started to break through some of this. especially interactions which involve casual physical touch? ESPECIALLY these interactions. Casual physical touch is something I know you have been terrified about for some time. When you start making break-throughs with it (doesn't have to be good EVERY time, but at least from time to time), then your gonna feel and experience lots that you haven't felt before. It DOES mean electively allowing some of the nastiness, but the difference is this - you will begin to feel more in control of those experiences. That's what diminishes the flashbacks and the intensity of the physical experience of them.
2. Why, after the things I've experienced this week, do I still feel crazy stressed and all mixed up? It's all about too much emotional / sensory overload. You've been all over the spectrum from pleasant physical touch (new) to the same old horrible crap (old) and a body can only handle so much of that at one time. I think you are still feeling the exhaustion of it all. I think it would be wise to find time to "take a break" - get your mind and senses off the issue for however long it takes to disengage. I know you want to get through this quick ( :-) ) but it would be wise to take breathers from it from time to time. The more you will be able to pick and choose where / when, the more control you will feel, the better it will become.
3. In addition to the above question, why do I feel absolutely peaceful about everything--especially my relationships with others? It makes sense there would be a lot of peace right now. It's headed in the right direction and I think God's tender mercies are those pleasant physical touch experiences that happen from time to time. It's a reflection about the direction things are headed. This feeling began on Monday, when I allowed Tolkien Boy to stay with me, and has increased daily from that point. Cool.

Okay--I actually have a million more questions, but I want to think about them some more before I actually ask them. Welcome to my bizarre life. :-) When you have time, please share your thoughts about the things I've discussed.

Thanks so much! and Happy New Year!! Happy New Year to you too!


Odd Conversation

(Note: This chat has been altered to include vowels, punctuation, and complete sentences on behalf of the chat person. It has not been altered for content. u hv bn wrnd )

Chat Person: You're not a lesbian.
me: No?
Chat Person: You're married to a guy, you have kids with him, you have sex with a guy on a regular basis. You're not a lesbian.
me: Well, I suppose if that's the definition of a not-lesbian, then I must be one.
Chat Person: I'm not being rude. Just real.
me: I'm all about honesty. Thank you.
Chat Person: You still think you're a lesbian.
me: I believe I'll keep my thoughts to myself.
Chat Person: Why do you think you're a lesbian?
me: I'm fairly certain I said I'll be keeping my thoughts to myself.
Chat Person: Why don't you want to answer my question?
me: It seems that you've already decided the answer to your question. Anything I say will be subject to debate. I finished with that long ago. I only answer questions when I know the person cares about my opinion. You don't.
Chat Person: You're pissed.
me: I rarely get mad at anyone. I'm not mad, just logical. I don't enter into a battle I have no chance of winning.
Chat Person: Okay. I was rude.
me: Yes.
Chat Person: So, I want to know why you say you're a lesbian when everything in your life says you're not.
me: Perhaps we could talk about the economy. Or...have you noticed how much snow fell in Utah last week? could tell me about your family--do you have siblings?
Chat Person: No. I just want to talk about why you think you're a lesbian.
me: You're quite tenacious.
Chat Person: What's tenacious?
me: Never mind. I honestly don't want to answer your question because I don't think you can understand.
Chat Person: I'm not dumb, you know.
me: It's not about dumb. It's about seeing another person's point of view.
Chat Person: Okay. I'll try.
me: I think I need to go now.
Chat Person: You're going to block me, aren't you.
me: Probably.
Chat Person: You keep talking on your blog about how you're trying to get better from being raped. I think the real problem is you think you're gay and you're not.
me: You know best, I'm sure.
Chat Person: Most of the stuff that bugs you is because you're not honest about who you really are.
me: No doubt you are quite correct.
Chat Person: You know who you are?
me: Most of the time, yes.
Chat Person: You're like a real mormon person. You just don't want to admit it.
me: I have no idea what that means, and I really dislike being rude, but I find you overbearing and opinionated and I'm tired of you. Good night.

I honestly never thought I would have such a conversation. I don't know whether to laugh or be sad about it. However, the truth is, in about two weeks it will never enter my mind again. It's remarkable only because it's obnoxious. 

On the off-chance, though, that Chat Person decides he can actually read, here is the answer to his question:

I consider myself gay/lesbian/ssa/homosexual/whatever because if I walk into a room full of people, the only ones I'll remember are the women. As a general rule, it takes me about a year of regular interaction with a man to actually recognize that he has a face, let alone other parts. Which doesn't mean I don't have friendships with men, I simply don't view them as sexual entities. If I find myself feeling attraction to a person, without question it will be a woman. 

I have, even quite recently, had full body contact (clothed) with a man-not-Darrin. It was very nice. I'll probably do it again. It will never be more than very nice. I don't have the hormonal inclination to make it more--nor does he or any other man-not-Darrin with whom I would allow such contact.

As I am married to Darrin, I will not have full body contact with women. My hormones would very much like to make more of that situation, and I will not allow them to do so. I hug women I care about. I sit beside them. If I trust them and am not attracted to them, I allow girl-touch (although this is a fairly new development). It is all very innocent and within the boundaries acceptable to Darrin.

I have sex with my husband. Probably it's a little more complicated than that which a heterosexual couple might experience. I have to concentrate, think about the deep love I have for my husband, remind myself that this is an expression of love completely unrelated to the abuses I experiences a long time ago, remember that his body is a part of what makes him special to me, and stay entirely in the moment. The pay-off is completely worth it--and I'm not talking about orgasm. I'm talking about becoming one with a person I love with all my soul, trusting him as I trust no one else, allowing him to love me in a way only the two of us share. I'm talking about leaving behind natural impulses to be with the person I have chosen, forming a bond with him physically and emotionally, expressing my love for him in a way that will bring him pleasure and joy--because I want to.

I am not, nor have I ever been physically attracted to men in the ways I have heard described by other women. I have experienced emotional attraction and attachment which is the avenue I have used to become physically intimate with my husband. And quite honestly, should I ever choose to become intimate with another man, using that same venue, I could. I won't, obviously. It's a lot of work, and I have my chosen mate, so why would I?

If, Chat Person, in your opinion that makes me a not-lesbian, I will be the last person to argue with you. It might have something to do with the fact that I've blocked you, as you said I would. After all, in the words of my good friend Shakespeare (yes, I'm that old), "The better part of valor is discretion..."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Someday I will live in Normal, Indiana.

I had a long conversation recently in which I made the statement, "Sometimes I just want to live life like a normal person."

I've said this many times. Before I'm allowed to express what I mean, the listening person invariably makes some disparaging comment about "normal", or launches into the excruciatingly long lecture which reiterates the following points in several different ways, none of which mean anything to me:
1. No one is normal.
2. All people have things in their lives that make them feel "different".
3. One should celebrate being unique.
4. I'm no different from anyone else.
By the time the four points have been restated at least six times, I'm no longer listening and sincerely regretting my attempt to share something personal. There is only one person I will interrupt in such a situation, and that's Darrin. I usually say, "You didn't let me finish again! I'm trying to tell you something, so please be quiet and let me talk." And he apologizes, lets me explain what I mean and I feel better.

I keep hoping someday others I care about will let me tell them why this is important to me, as well, but it seems they are sincerely in love with the "No one is normal" lecture, and not particularly interested in my opinion on the matter. 

But as this is my blog, no one can interrupt or lecture me here. So, I will now explain why I say,  "Sometimes I just want to live life like a normal person." (except my return key keeps sticking and I have to keep backing up when I hit it--very annoying)

1. I would like to enter a restroom without feeling panicky, trying to finish as quickly as possible, having to stop and breathe slowly--thus thwarting the hurrying part, and feeling compelled to wash my hands fifty times and use an entire bottle of hand sanitizer.
2. I would like to never feel afraid of my teenage sons who love me and would never hurt me. 
3. I would like to go to a physical exam without having flashbacks, shaking, and spending the next three hours crying.
4. I would like to not bleed when I have sex with my husband--which occurs frequently enough to remind me that my body doesn't always recognize the difference between loving physical expression and being raped.
5. I would like to allow friends (male or female) to have their arm draped across the back of my chair in a church meeting, and enjoy that closeness, not worry about whether or not I'll be able to get away quickly should the arm come into contact with my shoulders.
6. I would like to ride elevators with more than one other person without feeling I might throw up.
7. I would like cry because I'm sad or happy--not simply because I'm tired and/or need a stress release.
8. I would like to be able to chat online with people who love me for longer than fifteen minutes before I start wondering how that person would like to harm me in some way. 
9. I would like to be able to look at the naked male form without feeling attacked, nauseous, afraid beyond reason, and immeasurably sad. I would like to be able to use Tolkien Boy's words, "It's just a body," and mean them.
10. I would like to stop feeling the need to find safe places and recognize that I am always safe and have been for many years.
11. I would like to shake hands and feel casual about it. 
12. I would like to touch someones skin and feel it a pleasure and a privilege, not shrink from it and feel afraid.

While I recognize that there are some who will identify with the things I've listed, these are the items I view as "normal", by which I mean the majority of people don't really think about doing them, nor do they attach any sort of major importance to them.

I understand that each person has things that make them unique. I'm not trying to be like everyone else. I just wish to enjoy certain healthy human interactions and everyday occurrences without attaching unnecessary significance to them. I don't think that's asking too much, nor do I think that will change the qualities which make me singularly Samantha.

I sat by Boo in Relief Society on Sunday. She asked me if I minded if she scratched my back, which in girl language means a very nice caress across the shoulders, and middle and upper back. Some interesting things happened in that moment:
1. I said it was okay. I never say that. I'm not sure why I did--but probably because it was Boo, and I trust her. 
2. My feelings went haywire, because I was amazed at myself for allowing a person other than Darrin or my kids to touch me in that way, I was happy that I wasn't afraid or panicking, I was incredibly sad that I've spent so much of my life missing out on that part of human connection--and touch is extremely important to girls. They do it all the time--except--I don't.
3. I felt almost normal.

So now you know. And should I ever mention the wanting-to-be-normal thing to you, don't worry about making certain I understand no one is really normal--I do understand that. And please withhold the lecture, because even though no one loves the sound of your voice more than I do, I'd rather hear you talk about the things that make you sad or bring you joy, or maybe we can just discuss the process of photosynthesis, or name the stars, or talk about how much we like chocolate.

You know, things normal people do...