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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stable today.

When PTSD feels managed, I occasionally feel the need to just spend time with someone. Not needy, discuss feelings, tell me I'm not crazy time, but the kind of time when you just sit together quietly. Sometimes you talk a little bit. Maybe you lean against each other, just because. Sometimes you just do nothing because it's enough that you get to be together. You don't have to DO anything.

My cousin, Jeff, and I used to do that frequently. Sometimes I would read and he would take a nap. Sometimes we had snacks. Sometimes we compared hand size. Sometimes we just sat and giggled. No one understood us. We didn't care.

One time the two of us were left to make pasta sauce for the family. I don't know why. I think we were 10. We decided the sauce needed pepper. Then more pepper. And then more. With each pepper addition, we both agreed the sauce was greatly improved. The other relatives who ate it for supper disagreed.

Jeff referenced this on my Facebook page recently.

I'm still in the place where I'm surprised when someone remembers the same thing I do. I feel, often, that my memories are unique to me and no one else shares them, even if the experience was shared. I'm even more surprised when someone will say to me, "Remember when...?" It raises a host of questions for me. Why do they still remember that experience? Why do they mention it to me? What emotions do they feel when the memory arises? Is it just an interesting topic of conversation? Something we have in common?

Tolkien Boy once told me that people sometimes will bring up a shared experience because there was something that linked the two people together. They might be briefly reliving something funny or tender. It's a shared intimacy.

That makes me uncomfortable.

My memory is amazing, as long as it's not personal. Talk to me about books or poems I've read. Ask me to play the piano for a couple of hours-- all pieces memorized. Give me an hour to memorize lines from a play. Ask me about a conversation we had three years ago.

But if we shared a moment during which I felt vulnerable, there is no way I feel comfortable talking about it. Chances are, if you bring it up, I'll be trying to come up with a million ways to apologize for having that moment with you at all. And I'll probably ask you to help me come up with a plan so something like that never happens again.

When you're gone, however, when I no longer have to reconcile the fact that I may have touched or said or acted in a way that imposed intimacy on you, I'll probably, tentatively, think about how I, personally, felt in that moment. And I'll feel guilty for wanting the intimacy at all. But I'll still think about it.

And sometimes, when PTSD is at bay, and I'm not questioning my relationships or doubting that people love me, I'll wish for someone to be with me, sitting quietly, maybe talking a bit or leaning against me, just because, or perhaps just doing nothing because it's enough that we're together. And later, maybe years later, I think it would be okay for that person to say, "Remember when...?" And during the in-between time, I'll be working on saying, "Yes. That was a good thing. We should do it again."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ready to tackle PTSD once again

Someone once asked me why I waited so long to get help for PTSD. I'll be honest. I just walked away and pretended I hadn't heard. At that time, I felt it was too personal for me to answer, and I was sort of aggravated that anyone who hadn't experienced PTSD felt they had the right to question me. But the question is valid, I suppose.

I waited because:
1. I didn't know I had PTSD and wasn't diagnosed until I was hospitalized with suicidal depression about 10 years ago.
2. But even if I had known, I might have waited. Learning about and dealing with PTSD requires a lot of emotional stamina, at least for me.
3. After I was diagnosed, I still waited until I had done a great deal of research and had some idea of what post-traumatic stress disorder actually was.

About four years ago, my emotional reserves became depleted for a number of reasons. Since that time, my attempts to manage PTSD have been largely ineffective. That doesn't mean I haven't been trying. It just means I've not been successful.

I'm guessing that most PTSD symptoms follow similar trends, but also manifest themselves uniquely for each person. I can only speak for myself, of course. And I've tried to describe what happens to me when I'm overwhelmed by symptoms. But if I'm honest, I would have to say that, even here, I don't tell the truth. It's embarrassing. It feels foreign. And I feel crazy.

But I can't get better if I keep hiding what's happening. So I'm going to try, regardless of my mortification, to talk about exactly what is happening. Starting now.

I don't feel like me. The emotions and impulses are so far from what I would normally experience that they feel as if they are coming from another source. That's scary.

Always, the negative ramifications of the symptoms center around people.

I remember feeling resentful toward my mother until the age of 9. After that, I just hated her. I despised everything about her and wanted nothing from her, ever. That spilled into nearly all my interactions with people. I had become numb. I had become convinced that no one in the world would ever want me and I didn't want them, either. People made me nervous. When friendships ended, it felt like a matter of course. If they didn't end naturally, after a certain period of time, I took steps to terminate the relationships.This was my mode of social interaction for more than 25 years.

And I felt nothing about it. It just was.

When I left my roommates after a really lovely year of bonding and spending time together and falling in love with each other, I made no attempt to contact them again. When a few of them contacted me, asking if I'd like to share an apartment the next year, I felt nothing but mild surprise-- no anticipation, no delight, nothing.

Everything felt like a matter of course. I had no desire nor motivation to form or maintain permanent relationships. Darrin ended that. He was incredibly persistent. And he told me he loved me while we were just being friends and I was borrowing his car frequently. Having a friend with a car is very convenient. But my subsequent marriage to him did not end my feeling that he would leave. It was a very long time before I realized he wasn't going anywhere.

So now. What happens to me now?

It's as if every adolescent fear, anticipation, and feeling has been amplified. When PTSD hits and I'm alone, I'm angry that someone I love isn't with me. And that feeling progresses to the very mature, "If they loved me, they'd help me. I'm sad and lonely and miserable. They obviously don't care." Never mind that everyone is at work (or at 3 a.m., asleep). Never mind that they have lives and families. In that moment, clearly I am the only one who matters. And they just don't care.

Imagine for a moment how that sits in the brain of adult Samantha who studies and researches and follows lines of logic for nearly every aspect of her life.

In those moment, I am completely lost. This feels so far from what I know to be true, and yet, in that moment, it is the only thing in the world that is true. I'm in need and no one cares. People lie when they say they love me. They think I'm an inconvenience. They said they would help me, but they won't. They hug me, but they really don't want to touch me. They find me annoying. They despise me.

When I am emotionally weak, I cannot fight what is happening inside me. I try. I do everything I can think of. Even when it takes every bit of stamina, I've reached out to people. I've asked them to negate what is happening inside me. I've begged for reassurance.

Yeah. That feels horrible, too. No one likes to beg for love. But that is exactly what it feels that I'm doing. And I know when I'm reassured that I won't believe the person. Which makes me feel guilty and frustrated.

And what shall I do?

Tolkien Boy persists in reminding me that I need to be kinder to myself, more accepting, more loving.

But this THING that is happening-- this is not me. It's not. It's a cancerous beast devouring me from within. It springs from my own brain. It is fed by my past experiences and by past trauma. Who can love this?

Therapist suggests that I need to do more things to center myself and my life. He encourages me to work on relationships when I'm not overwhelmed by symptoms. And he says I need to continue to talk to people, ask for reassurance, and whenever possible, invite touch, especially when the symptoms are rampant.

But I don't know how to be not-stupid when the symptoms are present. I want to hurt people. I want to be sarcastic and vitriolic. I want to push everyone away, not pull them close. And I know it's stupid. I just don't know what to do about it.

Darrin suggests that I tell people what I'm feeling.

Ummmm... nope. I'm pretty sure no one wants to know what's happening in this head of mine during the times when I'm battling PTSD. Not only is it irrational and insane, it's ugly. It's bound to become personal. I'm trying to build my relationships with people, not destroy them.

Okay. I've said enough for now. It's out there. And it's good that most people don't read my blog. They don't need more reasons to avoid me. I need them to NOT avoid me. I need them to see all the crap coursing through me and love me anyway.

Therapist once asked me what I wanted in the most ugly moments. I said I didn't know. But I do. I want someone to pull me close, kiss me on the cheek, and tell me I am loved. I want them to acknowledge that I won't believe them, and it's okay. They'll keep saying it until I'm convinced. I want them to forgive all the horrible thoughts I have about them. I want them to hold me until the monster leaves and I can think clearly again. I want them to remember who I am when I cannot remember, myself.

Too much to ask. I know. But he asked. Maybe someday I'll tell him the truth.
Eight years ago Obama became the first black American president. And lots of people hated him. Really, really hated him. He was called Satan, Hitler, and likened to all sorts of different animals. And everything he did, good or bad, the people who hated him opposed. Everything. Even when it benefited them.

Example: President Obama wanted the U.S. to have universal healthcare that was affordable and accessible to all citizens. And even though many people wanted that, too, they didn't want it to be put in place while Obama was president. Which didn't stop them from having health insurance of one type or another through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There was another word flying around which Obama haters were really, really glad they didn't get. It was called Obamacare. They wanted nothing to do with that. Thank goodness out lawmakers had the decency to bypass Obamacare and put in place the ACA. Somehow the haters didn't get the memo that Obamacare WAS the Affordable Care Act which allowed them to procure health insurance through

And so when Mr. Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, the haters were really happy because, well, they hated Obama and Obamacare. So repealing was a really great thing. Except it wasn't because what they didn't notice because they were too busy hating Obama, was that repealing Obamacare meant that they would lose their health insurance purchased because of the Affordable Care Act which was THE SAME THING as Obamacare. They missed the memo. Because they were so wrapped up in hating a person. And now they'll be without insurance because they voted for the man who would take it away. Because they asked for it. Because they didn't recognize that what they wanted was also what they hated.

It didn't matter what Obama did during his 8-year presidency. He could help old ladies cross the street. Deplorable. He could create a cure for cancer. Despicable. He could bring end poverty and hunger and bring about world peace. Evil Incarnate.

I'm not saying he was a perfect president or person. I'm not saying he didn't make mistakes. I'm not saying I agree with every policy or decision he made. I AM saying, among those that hated him, he could not win. Ever.

And now it is my opportunity to be one who opposes our current president. And no matter how much I despise the way he treats and talks about women and minorities, no matter how many lies he repeats in his attempts to gaslight the people he leads, no matter how narcissistic and horrible he appears to me, I do not want to become one of the people who cannot see beyond the miasma of hate. I don't want to be one of them.

It's not an easy thing because I feel incredibly hurt. I am shocked and dismayed that our current president was caught on tape discussing how he can get away with sexually assaulting women because he has money and he's "famous." I'm sick that he labels people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. I hate his objectifying of women. I am afraid of his dishonesty and clear belief that anything he does is right and that he is above the laws of the land. In short, it would be a logical step for me to oppose him simply because he exists.

But that would make me one of those people. I don't want to be that.

The conflict is painful. I want to dig in and resist. I want to fantasize about his removal from office. I want to time travel into a place where he is no longer rearing his foolish head as he pretends to govern. But I need to move away from the feelings and see clearly what is happening. If it is good and healthy for my country, I need to support it, regardless of origin. If it is destructive, I need to stand with those who will help our country move toward the solution which will reinstate equilibrium and rebuild what will, inevitably, be lost.

I need to be me. I sort of feel that the freedom to be me has been taken away, and I have become reactive and resentful. Those things feel foreign. They feel uncomfortable. They feel dark.

Still, I'm not ready yet to say, "Okay, Mr. Trump, I'm willing to give you a chance." That will come later. Right now, I need to be angry and afraid. And, honestly, I don't know how long I will stay in that place. Because I'm not just angry at and afraid of our current president. I feel those same things in an even greater degree toward the constituents who elected him, some of whom are my family and friends. They elected a sexual predator to be my leader. Mine. The person who was sexually abused and/or raped by three different people before the age of 12. That's revolting.

So it's difficult not to feel like I'm once again a victim. I'm not, but the feeling persists. There are days now when I hate all men on principle. And then I weep because that's not who I am. And I'm surrounded by men who love me and treat me with respect. Men who will stand by me when I need solidarity, comfort me when I'm sad, and laugh with me when I need someone to lighten my load. Men with whom I have shared discoveries and conversations and hugs and confidences. And in spite of all that, there are still days when I cannot bear all the emotions which war within me. Because of an election. Because of a man I despise who reminds me of past abuses and is now my president.

But one day I will triumph over all this. I will not be a hater. I will not spend my time looking for reasons to be angry or feel downtrodden. I will find ways to love my life and the people in it. I will stand in defiance when my rights are threatened by those in power, and in support when, within our government, there is goodness and positivity. I will not allow myself to become so bitter and angry that I cannot see what is before my face. I will not be so blinded by hate that I cannot see the reality that one thing, called by two different names, is still one thing. I will not be them.

It's going to take time. Maybe a lot of time. Maybe four whole years.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sometimes I can't stop thinking. Probably that happens to lots of people. The trouble is that when my brain is in overdrive, I want to unload it, tell someone, talk about all the thoughts even if they're completely disconnected and meaningless.

No one is awake at my house tonight. I really need someone to be awake.

I applied for some jobs last week. In truth, I don't think I've ever really applied for a job. I've just networked into them. I don't really have that option here. What I didn't expect was that I would talk myself out of being qualified. I nitpick every job description. I'm hypercritical of my resume. And I procrastinate applying until I'm fairly certain the job has been filled. I don't know why.

So I'm expecting rejection mail soon. I need to stop doing this to myself.

I once told Therapist that I knew few people more capable than I. I think I believed it then. Today it's more difficult to believe.

We've been bidding on homes. So far, no luck. I'm trying to feel badly about this, but I don't really love the homes we're bidding on. Still, we need to be under contract for a home by the end of February at the latest. Time is slipping away. And I'm sort of terrified that we're not going to get a home. Also terrified that we will.

A single man at church tried to be my friend today. He thought, perhaps, I might like to go to dinner with him. I motioned to Darrin, across the foyer, and introduced my husband. Single Man suggested I might wear a wedding ring so people like him would know I was off limits. Off limits? Why does that phrase make me want to punch Single Man? Also, why am I upset that he wants me to wear my wedding ring?

I have a feeling that all of this stems from my defiance toward people who make decisions for me, finish my sentences, assume what I want or think, or just generally tell me what to do. Also, just for the record, if I wasn't "off limits" I still wouldn't go to dinner with Single Man. He smells like mildew. I have a problem with people who don't smell right. And I don't wear my wedding ring because I have to take it off when I practice, which means I might lose it. And I don't really wear jewelry anyway because I don't like to.

I really think I should be the one to choose whether or not I wear my ring. Side note: If Darrin asked me to wear it, I would. Not because I feel I need to be compliant, but because I love him, and if he's more comfortable when I wear it, I'm happy to do that for him. But that's easy for me to say because Darrin doesn't really worry about things like that.

I had nightmares last night. The kind that make me scream and wake everyone up. Embarrassing. I wonder if our upstairs neighbors can hear me. I'm pretty loud. Still, this was the first time I've had nightmares since coming home from Laramie. So...a whole week and a half. That's probably a record for me.

I think I might need flowers. I bought tulips for my sister's birthday last night. And when I went home I thought, "I need some of those." Tomorrow, perhaps I will buy some.

Final thoughts: I am tired of the nasty divisiveness of our nation. I am weary of the slinging of insults and personal attacks. I want to be able to say what I'm thinking without being labeled or people assuming they know a million things about me because I divulged one thought. I want people to ask questions out of genuine curiosity or interest, not because they are trying to lead the other person or prove a point. I want people to figure out how to survive without having to always be right.

That being said, I love the fact that people can be nasty and divisive and sling insults. I love the fact that people are allowed to jump to conclusions or make incorrect assumptions. I love that if someone feels they always must be right, they can pursue that goal if they choose to. What I'm saying is, while there is currently so much dishonesty and unpleasantness, I'm grateful that we have the latitude to be dishonest and/or unpleasant.

That being said, I'm not yet in a place where I feel comfortable coexisting with friends and family members who have made uncivil remarks or judgments about me. I'm not finished feeling anxious about what will happen with our country's new leader. I am still appalled that a man who won an election by inspiring fear and divisiveness, who blatantly disrespects anyone who is not him, and who verbally abuses women, minorities, and, basically, anyone who disagrees with him, will be at the helm of my country for the next four years. I still need time to process everything that has happened.

I'm trying to find moments of peace, of humor. I'm trying to spend time with safe people. I'm trying to create and work and proceed with my life. And I will. Soon.

The person who prayed in church today asked God to bless those who need to mourn. It was an odd turn of phrase. Usually we hear supplication for those who have need to mourn or, simply, for those who mourn. The words struck me. "Have need," to me, indicates that something has happened that will cause them to mourn, whether they choose to or not. And those who are mourning are doing it already. They're in the process.

But some of us NEED to mourn. We need to. Our bodies and minds are telling us that something happened, something awful. It hurt us. There was loss involved For whatever reason, we've shelved it, we're ignoring it. Perhaps facing it feels too painful. Perhaps we're just too busy and mourning will take time. Perhaps it feels like we just need to move on.

"...bless those who need to mourn..."

I need to mourn. What happens if I don't? I will continue to weaken. My brain will continue to feel clogged with messiness. Panic attacks will be randomly attached to nothing at all. I can't be the person I need to be.

What will it mean to mourn?

I don't know yet. But I think it means I'll need to write a lot more. I'll need to look at what I feel is lost or harmed or hurtful. And I will have to decide what I will do with all of that.

Okay. Brain feels less crowded now. Time for me to sleep.

Monday, January 16, 2017

I am slowly reclaiming myself. It's difficult to describe what this means. Also, it sounds completely melodramatic.

That being said, I've been noticing things changing. Therapist told me the trick to not slipping back into what I feel was despair, but could just have been silly self-indulgence, was to remember to do things that make me feel whole. So I've been doing that. 

Adam had a birthday last week. As is my tradition, I took him to choose flowers. His choice: six white roses and six orange ones. They're gorgeous. And we made his birthday dinner. Therapist says to do the things that have always made me feel happy. This birthday tradition makes me feel happy.

I've been spending time walking and thinking. And taking steps to prepare for applying for jobs. This sounds silly, but the truth is, I've really never had to do that. It's intimidating. And my resume is a mess because I have too many different job experiences to add to it. The result is unfocused. I need it to be focused. I need to get a job. I need to be able to leave my work behind me when I go home. 

I spent the day with Darrin today. I went through a weird 20 minutes when I kept telling him I needed to get home and work. Then I reminded myself that I was spending the day with him, I'd already finished working for the day, and I could do a bit more this evening if I chose to. Then I apologized, we went to a late lunch, and we spent the afternoon talking and laughing and remembering we're in love.

So it was a good day. And a nice evening. And soon I'm going to bed. 

Side note: I've had weird pain today. I think it might be related to anxiety. There's a lot of that in me right now. Anyway, pain in my chest, stomach, and joints. It became pretty severe around 9:00 p.m., but seems less intense right now. I'm hoping I can sleep. Also hoping this is a one-time thing.

Also, I really dislike my father-in-law's television choices.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And then I came home. 

Except it doesn't feel like home. 

Therapist and I talked a bit while I was away because I'd had time to think. I'd figured some things out. And also, I'd had my first opportunity in more than a year to de-stress. When I do that, I start to understand why I've been thinking craziness and acting stupid. It's a little disconcerting and a lot embarrassing.

I've spoken to people close to me. They assure me that they know, after spending lots of time with me, that this is how I work. And I should be grateful, but all I can think is, "But one day, I won't work like this anymore. That's the endgame. And when I don't, I'll be different. Then what?"

It's a problem. However, before I came home, I felt very calm about what might happen to me in regards to my relationships with other people. In fact, one of the things I said to Therapist was this: "I'm still afraid of people leaving, but not desperately so. People do leave. But sometimes it's good that they do that, for both of us. You have to choose, mutually, to have long-term relationships and allow for the misunderstandings while having the desire to continue building that relationship. Tolkien Boy calls it relentless forgiveness, but it's much more than that. But my point is, I don't feel aggravated or defensive or resentful right now about the possibility of someone deciding that they need someone different from me in their lives (Darrin excepted, of course. He doesn't get that choice.). This doesn't mean I'm not uncomfortable with the possibility, just less irrational about it."

Then I continued: "I actually don't believe the people in my life WILL leave. It's been awhile since I've been able to feel that. I'm finally able to feel what my brain is telling me when it says, 'Um, Sam, your kids call you all the time. This isn't because they feel guilty or obligated. You didn't raise them that way. It's because they miss you just like you miss them.' And, 'You're ridiculous. You have people who have been your friend for 10 years now. Do you understand that many people don't even have 10-year friends? They're not leaving because you've worked together to build something that will last.' Or, 'You've been married a long time. Stop making up scenarios in which Darrin will finally be free of you. He doesn't want to be free. He wants to be married. Start being married and stop worrying about things that aren't real.' Yeah, my brain is much smarter than the rest of me. But the point is, while I'm here, all that paranoid crap feels just like paranoid crap."

But the problem is that if I'm not able to find space and time to work through stress, I'll be right back in the place where the paranoid crap seems feasible and the most likely scenario for my life. And nothing anyone says or does will make a dent in my certainty that the paranoid crap is reality.

I don't want to go there again. 

So this week I am working on buying a house and getting a job outside my home. Darrin and I are going to take some time to talk about boundaries we need to protect our independence and intimacy as a couple. And I am going to figure out how to enjoy being close with people once again instead of being crazy afraid of physical and emotional closeness. I'm going to do it.

There were so many nice things that happened while I was gone. Good, building things. I needed that. I had good conversations with a couple of people who have made a place for me in their lives for more than a decade. I made up new beautiful, creative, delicious recipes. I haven't done that for awhile. I spent time reading and writing. I haven't written anything other than emails and whiny blog posts for more than a year. I went out with people and had fun. I spent a day with my parents and worked with my dad in his office. I shoveled snow for hours. I watched the sun rise and set every day. 

Today was my first day home. I won't lie. It was pretty awful. Lots of depression waiting to descend. Frustration. Uncertainty. But I'm going to be okay. More than okay. I'm going to figure this out. Tomorrow I will go running. I'll practice. I'll work a bit. I'll look and apply for jobs. And I appointments to see two homes. Right now I don't feel like being with anyone, but on Monday I'm going to see if Jeff will have lunch with me. I'm glad he decided not to die. 

For now, though, I'm going to sleep. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Not Sleepy

That makes me giggle a little. I think those words have come out of my mouth more than any others. My mother speaks of the time when I was an infant. Most babies will fall asleep while eating or shortly thereafter. I would stay awake for hours. I wasn't fussy, just not sleepy. She said it made her nervous. I would just quietly look around.

Later, as a toddler and preschooler, I would fight naps with a vengeance. My mother's solution was to read to me. Most often, she would be the one who ended up napping. I would finish the story by myself. Resting was not an issue for me. I was fine lying in bed and looking at books or coloring. Sleep just wasn't my thing.

As a preteen, Sunday was a day when everyone napped. Sleep seemed to be something one should want. So I trained myself to go to sleep for an hour or two. Inevitably, I would wake feeling frustrated, grouchy, and ill. The sensations stayed with me for three or four hours, especially the nausea. I felt the same way if I tried to sleep late in the mornings.

So in a house full of people who valued sleep, I learned to silently entertain myself until around midnight, sleep four or five hours, then wake up. I'd get ready for school, then when everyone else awoke, I'd practice the piano until the bus came. I'm pretty sure no one appreciated my practicing, but no one ever asked me to stop.

Throughout my life, I've maintained that sleep pattern. Sometimes I'll go to bed earlier, but that means I'll be up around 4:00 a.m. That's fine, I suppose, but it also means I have to be sure I don't disturb anyone while I do things. I've spent a lot of time reading during the early hours of morning. In the summertime, I'd go running and watch the sun rise. Every once in awhile, I'd try that napping thing again with disastrous results. I'm usually pretty easygoing. Naps still make me grouchy and impossible. And sick.

So it's 1:00 a.m., and I'm not sleepy. As usual.

I've been having nightmares the past few day; the kind that end up drenching me in cold sweat. That could be part of the reason I don't want to sleep tonight. There is also a sense of no longer belonging in the place I lived more than 20 years which is unsettling. And there are so many memories here. Good ones. My children were born and grew up here. It's a lovely place. And I don't belong anymore.

I will be back in my apartment on Thursday. I don't belong there, either, but it's where my clothes are. And Darrin. I belong with Darrin.

Tabitha salvaged many of the Christmas decorations I discarded when we moved. She still has them out in her apartment. One of the items she took was a wooden Rudolph I made years ago. I cut, sanded, and stained the wood, then painted on the face. There used to be fake snow atop his antlers and around his hoofs. Time has worn that away leaving splotches of white where the texture used to be. I drilled holes in the bottom of the antlers so the kids could hang candy canes in them (I know-- who hangs candy canes in reindeer antlers???). I painted on a smile and large eyes, and then, for some unknown reason, I painted a heart in the middle of his forehead instead of giving him eyebrows.

Tabitha has always loved our wooden Rudolph. She has made sure his antlers always had candy canes. She was indignant when I threw him away. I said, "Tabitha, he's old. I made him years ago." She said, "You made him. It doesn't matter when." I think that's sweet. I also don't really understand it.

So tonight Rudolph is keeping me company. I feel a bit offended by his insistent reminder that once I made crafty things and I don't even know why. He also is in desperate need of a new ribbon for the wreath around his neck. But he's quiet and doesn't disturb my thinking. AtP once accused me of thinking too much, and he might be right. That's not something that's likely to ever change.

Okay. Time for me to attempt sleep. Perhaps Rudolph will keep the nightmares at bay tonight. I'd like that.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Today a Facebook acquaintance posted something she wrote ten years ago. It was a lovely memory from a time before I met her. I thought I'd like to do something similar, so I went back to my decade-old posts to find something to add to my own Facebook feed. I ended up posting nothing.

2007 was not a year I wish to share on social media. This was the year I did a number of things that were incredibly important to my therapy and healing, but not necessarily things that make good reading nor pleasant memories. I screened very little. I wrote whatever I thought or felt. As I read, I was surprised at how difficult it was to process that I was the person who typed the words. I knew the experiences were mine. I also knew it happened a long time ago.

Key things that occurred in 2007:
1. I was suffering from nightmares which robbed me of sleep. Sometimes I would go for a few days without sleeping. I was terrified of the nightmares even when I was awake.
2. I devised a plan whereby I would learn to control my dreams. Tolkien Boy agreed to help me with this. I was successful, but in the process, I learned a number of things about myself which were unsettling and surprising and required more therapy.
3. I decided it would be helpful to go see the person who raped me. Originally, I planned to go by myself. Most of my friends asked me not to do that. A few offered to go with me. In the end, Tolkien Boy accompanied me to lunch with the rapist, then stayed with me while I tried to manage all the crap that stirred up. Was it helpful to meet my rapist face to face under circumstances I controlled? Absolutely. It was also one of the most unpleasant things I've ever done. In my blog I recorded our email correspondence as we arranged to meet for lunch. That was difficult to read.
4. 2007 was the year my therapist moved to Utah. He tried to connect me with another local therapist who would help me continue what I had started. I insisted I was fine. I needed no more therapy. A few weeks later, I found myself in the mental health ward of the hospital on suicide watch. While I was there, I was diagnosed with PTSD. When the psychiatrist explained what that was, many things fell into place. I was relieved that I wasn't crazy and that many of the things I was experiencing were due to PTSD. I was also alarmed that I had something. I wasn't normal. And I didn't really know what having PTSD would mean for the rest of my life. Research was not reassuring.

And now, here I am. I've been whining for at least a year about how much my life is not what I want it to be. I've been allowing my life to be controlled by PTSD symptoms. I've been lamenting and moaning about dealing with surgeries and Darrin's job loss and difficulties with moving. I have, in short, been insufferable.

And honest.

Everything I've written is a genuine feeling or experience. But my attitude is ridiculous.

I've been in Laramie for four days now. Much of the time I've been alone. I've had moments to quietly think. And it's been snowing - beautiful, sparkling snow. So much snow. I spent three hours shoveling it yesterday. This morning there was no sign of my work. And it's so cold. Tonight it is -28 degrees, but still incredibly beautiful.

I told Tolkien Boy a few weeks ago that I chose to do everything I am currently doing because it was the right thing to do. And it's still the right thing. It's just not what I want to do. I'm doing the right thing, but I don't want to. So, what do I want to do?

That is a question I've not been able to answer. How can I possibly do things I want to do if I don't know what they are?

So I've been thinking about that for the past few days. I need to identify what I want. This is my partial list:
1. I want to be finished with buying a house. That means I need to find the house we want and purchase it as soon as possible. I don't want to look anymore. I want to be done.
2. I want alone time with Darrin. Lots of it. And I don't want to feel guilty about not including my father-in-law. It is not unreasonable for me to spend time with my husband often and alone. I need this to happen. I need to facilitate it.
3. I want space for me. This can't happen yet, but it has to happen soon. I need my alone time. I need to think and plan and visualize. I can't continue healing if I don't have this, neither can I manage PTSD. When I don't have such time, I become whiny and aggravated. All my close relationships become victims as I question the motives of people I love, as well as my own self-worth. I need this personal space and time. It needs to be uninterrupted and quiet.
4. I want to spend time with Tolkien Boy. As I write this, my brain is wildly questioning why I single him out. But the truth I found today in my ten-year-old blog posts is that when I spend time with Tolkien Boy, I'm able to understand a great deal about myself. Part of this is that we've become very close and accepting of one another. Another part is that some of my most profound experiences have been shared by him. So while I want to spend time with many people whom I love deeply, I sort of NEED that time with Tolkien Boy. And as with my personal time, I need time with him that is dedicated to just being with him and no one else.
5. I want to spend time with others I love. I've been avoiding that for the past four months. I've gone to lunch with AtP. That's all. The week after Christmas, I hosted a small dinner party, and I visited a couple of friends I've been wanting to see. And I finally spent time with my cousin, Jeff. He's not dead. In fact, he's working on putting his life back together. He believes that this time he'll be successful. He quit his job, moved in with his parents, and is spending the next six months working on himself. At some point in the near future, he would like me to help him find a therapist. I need to spend time with him and with other people I love.

So where does all this time come from? I don't know.

However, being with people doesn't require days on end, but usually only an hour or so. I can budget that into my week. And it won't add to the stress in my life, but rather, will ease it. I need to be with people I love. Spending time with them helps me balance PTSD symptoms and remember who I am.

I'm going to talk with Therapist about all this. He can help me figure out how to do this without becoming obsessive about it. He's already assigned me to do numbers 2, 3, and 4 on my list, so the rest will follow naturally.

It's time to stop whining and do something real. I think I'm finally ready.