Trigger Warning & Discussion Guidelines

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kitten 1I am devoted to this blog being about healing, not abuse porn. That said, sometimes to talk about healing I will have to talk about hurting. Please consider this sticky post a trigger warning for every entry for childhood abuse of all kinds. If you are having a difficult day, this blog will still be here tomorrow! Consider looking at this picture of a kitten, instead, for now. Be kind and compassionate to yourself.

Also, be kind and compassionate to ME. If you want to stroll by and attack me when I fuck up (which I’ve done, and I write about it) or because you don’t like queers or what-have-you, or if you want to fight about the psychiatric profession or EMDR or anything else, please know that I screen all comments and I just won’t let them through. This place is not a debate page. It’s a personal blog, and I’m blogging for connection and support.

Weebles Wobble but they don’t fall down

webblewobbleHey you guys
The last two days — hell, maybe three — have been GOOD.
thank god for Lexapro and for being irrepressible no matter how hard I try not to be; I was born a Weeble Wobble*

I know there will be ups and downs still but I thought you all might want to know.

* explanation for the children: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weeble

We Are What We Do

kindnessIt has occurred to me that I am completely unable to see myself the way my friends see me. I suppose everyone is like that to some extent. But the disconnect is truly astoundingly different.

My father always thought he was a bad person. Despite giving and giving and noticing when people were sad and being kind and loving and loving and literally working his hands until they bled for his family. He thought something deep inside of him was just BAD.

I think it was the catholic church and his abusive father who taught him this, and I imagine for me it was my abusive mom who taught ME this: that there is something fundamentally wrong and bad about me, no matter what I do or say.

Intellectually, I believe love is a verb and, all respect due to my new age friends, I think it is our deeds that define us and not our thoughts.

And yet I’m slipping into that thinking that my dad had about himself: if they only knew how pathetic and whiny I am between my ears, I think to myself. How lazy and cowardly I can be in my own brain. No one would think I was a good person.

And that is bullshit. Love is a verb. I am what I do. If you tell me I was there for you when you needed a friend, who am I to say “But I wasn’t there in the right way; it wasn’t good enough?”

Thank you all for speaking up and holding me up and telling me to stop being so hard on myself. I’m not sure if I can do what you ask, or how long it will take me to learn it, but I’m gonna try.

Steel

In case it’s not obvious from my relative silence, I’m going through a really rough time. Friends are helping me and standing by me and checking in on me and I’m getting through but it’s really fucking horrible right now.
(I have been on Lexapro for only a week and a half and I’m seeing some changes already; I do think things will slowly improve as the meds build up. Please do not worry.)
At my contract position, I had a long lunch with some of the women working with me and three of them had been divorced. All of them went through what I am going through: having to go (back) on antidepressants, waking up every morning filled with terror and having to plan an extra half hour to an hour into every morning for dealing with the panic attack. Losing an enormous amount of weight because they could not bring themselves to eat (I am shrinking down at an alarming rate in the least healthy way possible — I am weakening, physically, and unable to exercise from hunger but also unable to eat without retching and nearly losing it).
It’s so interesting that we have all gone through the same thing. Divorce, even one that is needed, IS trauma. I am being traumatized. We all were.
Today, my aunt posted a photo of her mother (my grandmother, obvs) on her wedding day. I’m not posting it here because this blog is anonymous; if you know me and want to see it, I did post it with this commentary on Facebook.
Everyone commented about how beautiful she was (we always think old re-touched photos are beautiful, don’t we?).
I do not see her beauty. I see who she became: she went on to have eleven children and to become such a rigid fundie catholic that she mourned Vatican II. She went on to treat my father like shit, to talk blandly about her other son’s obvious residency in hell at his funeral because he’d been going to a Methodist church, and to say terrible things about me when I spoke up about an uncle-by-marriage molesting me. I’ve always said that her tombstone should say: “Here lies Firstname Lastname: Valiant Defender of the Patriarchy.”
I look at that face. What part of her is in me? Certainly not the part that stood by her man. Hopefully not the part that would turn against my own son for leaving the priesthood or my own granddaughter for speaking the truth.
There is a certain steel there, in that face — even as young as she was. Not the tough, flexible, fiery and magnificent steel of my maternal grandmother — who once chased a wild boar from a family picnic with nothing but a kitchen knife.
No. A brittle, flinty sort of steel. One that will not bend or move. A self righteous steel that cannot turn or twist. I fear that is what I got from her, and if I don’t figure out how to flex, I will snap in half.

Apparently I live for my kids

. . . and that is probably not a terribly healthy thing.

whining

I’m sorry for this image but it made me laugh.

These past two weeks have been horrible. I need to remember that when my kids go out of town with their dad, I need to assume that those two weeks will be utterly wasted. I will not do any of the stuff I think I will:

  • I will not have fun sex with people I’ve been eyeing.
  • I will not read great books.
  • I will not have quality time with my partner (although I will apparently demand that she hang around my morose ass while I joylessly stare into space. I’m a keeper!).
  • I will not get a bunch of freelance or fiction done.
  • I will not work out.
  • I will not learn how to make lamb stew.
  • I will not go to readings and have dates and go dancing and take classes and catch up with old friends.

I will sit around wishing I were dead,* being terribly ungrateful to the people who are trying to cheer me up or otherwise spend time with me.

Next time I think I’ll just lay in a stock of old movies or some show I want to catch up on and assume that is all I’m good for.

Self knowledge or some shit, I guess.

I will say this: I want to be fixed. I want to be done. I am so goddamned tired of slogging away at this therapy and EMDR. It’s been nearly four years and I still have no self esteem to speak of and my depression seems just as bad.

I will say, though, that outside of one hideous incident of slapping I blogged about already, I haven’t hit my kid — and that’s what brought me to therapy in the first place.

Is this what I wanted, though? Slogging through life, grimly not hitting my kids?

Or did I want to live a little? To enjoy things? To feel as if I am deserving of love, just because I’m a human being?

I guess I kinda wanted that, and I also guess that for that shit I need to stick with it and MY GOD I AM SO TIRED OF STICKING WITH IT.

And I am so, so lucky that so many friends including the wonderful partner I do not deserve are sticking with ME, even if they’re getting a little tired of it.

But everyone struggling with mental illness hits a point in which people are exhausted with them. Compassion Fatigue is real, people. And I fear I’m teetering dangerously close to that point, and I need to get my shit together.

*I am not suicidal. I was too depressed to plan anything. Just disappointed when I woke up every morning, apparently alive.

Double Vision

overlappingSo, for various reasons I was very nervous about Thanksgiving this year. I’m not sure if the reasons matter for this story but we were traveling and the weather was supposed to be bad (it was; I drove in the freezing rain! Yaaaaaay), and we would be without my kids’ dad for the first time since the separation, and I hate all holidays indiscriminately so I was afraid I would ruin it for everyone. For Reasons.

GOLLY I’m a barrel of fun.

Anyway so I’m grabbing some wine for the dinner and just can NOT stop dissociating. Like, I am just drifting around haphazardly through the aisles, limping; vague. Can’t remember what kind of wine I like (which is super not complicated, you guys).

And my partner, who is kind of trailing along behind me, sees me grab a completely random bottle and continue lurching down toward a totally non-related aisle and says to me: “Where ARE you right now?”

And I answer back automatically, without thinking (very loudly, I might add, and then everyone who wasn’t already staring at the vacant-eyed staggering woman was now staring): “I’m in the liquor store with my mother,” and

BAM

I can see it all.

The world looks like someone has accidentally pointed two projectors simultaneously at the same screen: I am in this familiar Midwestern inner-city liquor store with the cop at the door and the harsh fluorescent lighting and the old cracked linoleum floor and the rows and rows of bright lime starbursts hollering SALE, and I’m also trailing resentfully behind my mother in a posh, hardwood-floor liquor store with wooden shelving and tasteful lighting in the wealthy East Coast town I lived for two years.

I watch as a guy in paint-spattered coveralls picks up a 12-pack of Coronas, walking directly through the shape of my mother with a huge grocery cart packed into the narrow aisle of the East-Coast liquor store while she loudly and theatrically pretends to peruse the nicer wines, describing their taste notes to her 19-year-old daughter (that’s me) who looks fixedly out of the window, pretending not to see as she darts suddenly toward the RotGut Section and, in a smooth and barely perceptible motion, swoops three gallon jugs of Gallo into the bottom of the cart while discussing the Merlots on the higher shelf, and then grabs a handful of Sutter Homes and whisks toward the checkout.

I can see my partner as she stands, openmouthed, in the current-time liquor store, with worry puckering her brow, and I even ask her about whether I should take this wine that I have no idea what it is (it was awful, I discovered later) and if she thinks it’s . . . blah blah blah. I guess I am not sure what I said because at that moment my mom was making bright, cheery conversation with the elaborately-coiffed and elaborately uninterested cashier about how this will go with dinner; on, honey why don’t you put back these two there won’t be that many people coming well maybe not we can always keep them in the basement until next party (needless to say there was no party).

This is not exactly a flashback, I guess — in a flashback, I am nowhere else but in the upsetting memory. And this memory isn’t even upsetting, I don’t think. I was vaguely embarrassed that she was pretending to be there for something else (these women knew her; who did she think she was fooling?), and I sort of had to pee a little and wanted to go home.

I am not sure if it was just because I saw the Sutter Home and the Gallo section and was anxious and dissociative already and therefore unmoored from time and place, but MAN it was so weird.

There was not really anything I could do about it, either; I drifted along, patiently answering my partner’s questions (or not; afterward she informed me that I maybe wasn’t answering them all completely or at all), handing over my credit card as the teenage me climbed into the old Honda and waited for my mother to finish loading the trunk, all of us driving down the road until I pulled over, took some deep breaths, and FORCED MYSELF to focus on the present and the business of driving.

I have no idea how often I’ve been doing this. I wasn’t even really aware I was doing it until my partner asked me where I was; when I answered was when the scene burst into full color to my consciousness. Maybe I spend a quarter of my life walking around in two worlds.

I guess this is what people mean when they say ‘living in the past.’

I am not entirely sure what it means or how I can or should address it, but it sure is fucking interesting.

Or “cooooool,” as my therapist said.

Adulting

adultedMy children are gone for two weeks and I want to curl up into a ball and rock steadily the entire time they are away, occasionally letting loose a small whimper and maybe rending a garment or two that I’d never liked all that much anyway.

Instead, yesterday I went to see Star Wars and allowed myself to enjoy the feeling of being back there again (it was good. That’s all I’ll say), and split a bottle of wine with my partner afterward. We did not finish the bottle.

(A side note: since I moved to my own place after 25 years with my coparent, I keep forgetting to stop at the liquor store. I have no alcohol in my house except for that partially-drunk bottle of wine from yesterday. I have gone from being a nightly drinker, carefully tracking my every drink for fear of becoming an alcoholic, to FORGETTING TO BUY ALCOHOL. And then, when I realize I have none, happily making myself some Jasmine tea instead because a trip to the liquor store is too much hassle. The liquor store. Is too. Much. hassle.)

And today I have further adulted with the following:

  1. ordered a mattress protector
  2. ordered checks with my new address
  3. blocked a FB friend who has subjected me to several strange tirades and whose mental health seems unstable. Broke my usual pattern (engage engage engage whether the person deserves my time and energy or not). I feel sorry for her, which is not the basis for a friendship. Not everyone has the right to my attention and intellect.

I will now:

  1. make myself tea, eggs, and toast, and
  2. refrain from AGAIN texting the boys demanding to know why they aren’t answering me. Their dad texted last night to tell me everyone was fine. That’s all I need to know.

I SWEAR my next post will be the bizarre and interesting PTSD-related thing my brain did right before Thankgiving that made my therapist say: “WOAH. That is SO COOL.”