Trigger Warning & Discussion Guidelines


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.


And I did great!

The entire first three rows was jammed with my friends beaming at me. Everyone laughed and gasped and tsk’d in all of the right places, I got lots of hugs after, and unfortunately I also had a few people with PTSD want to talk to me. (I say ‘unfortunately’ because I’m so sad about how many people have PTSD.)

One big guy just came up after, told me his name, and asked if he could hug me.

I obliged.

I feel so relieved and free and like a MILLION BUCKS!

Vector silhouettes of man in a wheelchair.

PS I also got a wonderful supportive text from one of my sisters ahead of time and they are months behind in loading stuff to YouTube so I don’t have to worry about more exposure for a long while.

Tonight I speak my truth in public.

tumblr_nbj74cwwzg1s35thho1_500The story is much better; I honed it and made it more honest and personal. It will be good, I think.

And then it will eventually go on YouTube and quite possibly my sisters will lose their shit.

Quite possibly my mother will try to come for me.

I gave one sister a heads-up to try to get some reassurance, but she was unable to offer it.

I’m going in. Wish me luck.

I am afraid.

Last night I had rehearsals for a spoken word piece I am going to base on this memory and EMDR session. The rehearsal did not go well; I held too much back.

Remember: this is an anonymous blog. This is going to be the first time I speak, in public, about the fact of my mother’s abuse and the specifics of my trauma. It’s also about sex and feeling stupid, which makes a girl feel VERY vulnerable.

I do not want to upset my sisters; I do not want her coming after me when she sees the video that will go online of the piece.

But I need to let go of trying to control outcomes. I need to speak my truth.

Still scared shitless, though.

Here is an image that gave me strength today:


On resilience


Tuesday, I did something I’ve never done before, ever: I took a day off from work and I paid money to attend a conference that had nothing to do with my day job or with my writing.

It was a conference on resilience for people who have dealt with trauma.

Honestly, just paying the money, getting out of bed, and dragging myself there was therapeutic in and of itself. “My mental health matters this much,” I was telling myself and everyone around me. “I am going to go somewhere and talk about resilience and healing and I’m not even bringing my computer to check in at lunch hour.”

I learned a very helpful meditation technique involving awareness that I used later in coparenting counseling with my ex. I think it helped me to be aware that I was experiencing this temporary thing called ‘anger’ but not be controlled by it, at certain moments.

I felt weird being at the conference, though. Everyone asked me where I was from because they were all from various social service organizations. “Trauma” seemed a bit of a melodramatic response, so I just gave my town and said: “I’m here on my own, to learn!”

I listened to group sessions very much about intersectional/generational trauma, which were interesting but not particularly helpful to me immediately and personally. I did the meditation breakout session and a movement breakout — tai chi seems something I should try, maybe.

Then I left early and slept for two hours in the back of my car right in downtown of a major Midwestern city. But I was too exhausted to safely drive home.

I’m not certain what I learned about resilience, but I am glad I went and even if I take nothing from it but the fact that I am prioritizing my mental health and that one meditation technique, it was a day well-spent.

Dealing with difficulty

panic-attacks-symptomsI discovered last night that my kid has been lying to me again about his homework and his grades. He has two A’s and three F’s. Typical of him: only full effort or none.  It seems he is not college-bound, but he has no ability to manage his life in any way that makes me convinced he will be able to ever manage it, and he’ll be living with me forever.

I feel completely helpless to do anything about this.

My combined checking account with my ex is overdrawn by nearly $1,000.

I feel completely helpless to do anything about this, either.

In the past, I would have yelled at my kid, sent my ex angry texts, and stayed up all night freaking out, texting my partner doomsday scenarios.

I stayed calm with my kid. I did not contact my ex about money. I DID text my partner with doomsday scenarios but then I realized this was making me feel worse so I stopped. I actually went to sleep after a while.

I woke up in the middle of the night having a panic attack things: sweating, flailing, heart pounding.

For some reason “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” was stuck in my head on repeat.

I started doing square breathing.

For a long time, when I’ve been in a panic attack this profound, I’ve been unable to do square breathing. I give it up and pant and pant and just think I hate myself over and over. I’d lie in a fugue state, not really sleeping but not really awake, pounding the self hatred message into my subconscious with a jackhammer. I stagger around, gagging and panting some more.

But last night I did it. I stuck with the square breathing until my pulse slowed and my mind was relatively quiet.

I started to berate myself, saying: “Ah! You can be so great and serene and cool when everything is going well but as soon as something bad happens you fall apart,” but then I quickly interrupted that thought with “This is very very stressful, and you’re actually doing the calming techniques you’ve learned! Money and parenting are both terrible tweaks for you as is lying, and of course you are incredibly upset. You are learning something about yourself. This is all genuinely upsetting. You’ll figure out how to deal.”

And then after about an hour or two I promised myself that I would do things differently with the kid this year, that I would give to my ex whatever I could afford but no more, and then I FUCKING WENT BACK TO SLEEP.

In the morning, I slept in because I needed more fucking sleep.


PS I am still freaked out about money and my child’s dim future and the thought of screaming at him every night to do his homework do his homework do it do it do it makes me want to crawl into a hole and die but so far I haven’t done it.

Internal voice: profound changes

I recently had an email exchange with someone who has CPTSD from childhood trauma who referred to “that constant inner voice denigrating me. My, ‘Mom voice,’ I call it.”

I understood exactly what he was talking about, because until VERY VERY VERY recently — like a month ago, anyone looking at me would see a tough, butchish, cheerful Mom Getting Shit Done, Kicking Ass and Taking Names, Being Employed, Laughing With Friends, or even Scratching Her Butt.

What they could not see was the constant refrain that rang in my head. I mean constant. Chugging, like a train. The words, over and over and over and over again during everything I did, the entire time I was awake: I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself . . . 

Visual description: Dark silhouette with the words "I hate myself" repeated over and over inside of it.

It was a neverending refrain. Behind my work as a copywriter, behind my work as a mom. Showering. Cooking. Riding my bike (sometimes it would stop a bit as I rode my bike, especially when I would exchange cheery greetings with folks).

Although I am naturally an extrovert, part of why I found being alone so excruciating was that when I wasn’t talking with others, I could not drown out this constant refrain.

I would interrupt myself reading with this i hate myself i hate myself i hate myself tune and be unable to concentrate.

I tried some pop psychology by contradicting the voice, but I wound up turning up the volume and repeating it longer, more constantly, more viciously:

Image of silhouette with 'I hate myself' repeated over and over, interrupted by 'I love myself?' Ha ha ha very convincing I hate myself" and then repeating I hate myself again.

I maybe tried this for a week or so. I was weak and useless in this area. There was no way I was going to silence this with a pathetic, unbelievable and whispered: “I love myself.”

I’ve been trying very hard to undo some of the damage in therapy with EMDR. I’ve been trying to work on a bit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, but this constant constant refrain never seemed to change.

For a while, I’d berate myself even more for it. Or I’d yell inside my head (or out loud): STOP IT!!!

Sometimes the suddenness of the interruption would stop it for roughly three minutes, but it would always start up again:

Image of a silhouette filled with the words 'I hate myself' and then the phrase: 'STOP IT!!!!" followed by a brief blank space and then the repeating refrain of 'I hate myself.'

Those three minutes or so were such a relief. I didn’t imagine it was very kind to the part of me that was spouting these words (and obviously she needed some kindness), but I felt I was acknowledging it was going on and interrupted it, sort of like slapping an hysterical person always works in movies.

It would start up again, but not actually louder or anything. And I’d yell STOP IT and it would stop, again, for a few minutes.

Those minutes were precious, truly. And it was working for months. Maybe even a year. I mean, to give myself a few minutes of peace.

Meanwhile, I worked and I EMDR’d and I talked and I changed my life in profound ways I never could have before:

  • leaving a relationship that had become unhealthy
  • getting my own space and accepting generous help from my sisters and others
  • going for a job I cared about learning from instead of the job that would pay most
  • going on medication

All of these things were clearly steps forward. All of these things were and are clearly signs of growth.

But the weekend I went camping, I started doing something else to my internal monotonous monologue.

When I started to think: “I hate myse–” I would interrupt and say to myself instead: “I hate the way she’s speaking to me.”

When I started to think, again, “I hate myse–” I would interrupt and say to myself instead: “I hate the damage my mother has done to my sister.”

And after I interrupted that voice?


An internal silence in my head. A calm, cool, hush that reflected the wilderness around me. That lasted for HOURS.

And you guys.

It’s still working.

This is what the inside of my head looks like, now:

Image of a silhouette with the words "I hate my-" interrupted with the words "this situation," and then an empty silhouette after that.

There is this amount of calm quiet in my head that I didn’t even know was possible.

As with all developments in my psychological state such as the vanquishment of dreams, etc. I will try very hard not to be crushed when/if it continues, because healing is not a linear process, but so far it has not — and in this particular case, unlike my nightmares, I have an enormous amount of control over it.

I cannot draw a straight line between EMDR and my sudden, overnight, newfound ability to silence that voice by directing the hatred to the situation instead of myself.

But I know it’s there, and I know that as much as it appears to have been overnight, the structure supporting my ability to silence this refrain was built over years: with good therapy, EMDR, and this blog.

I am still working. I still have so much work left to do.

But this is real, profound progress. And I am so grateful for it.

Unmaking Trauma, Reclaiming Yourself

This has been going around on FB lately:


I have to admit that when I first started EMDR this is what I feared: I was my trauma, and in healing from the trauma I was erasing myself: my spark, my fire, my suchness.

But as I have continued on in healing, I find that I passionately disagree.

I don’t see it as erasing myself. I see it as cracking the shell my abusers encased me in and coming out to be my true self. I see it as cracking the broken bones that set themselves all wrong and setting them straight. Leeching the poison from my system. It goes bone deep, yes. But it is not ME.

As much as my mother would have loved to tell me I was nothing but what she made me, she was wrong. I am a human being in my own right. I was twisted and prodded and broken and maimed as I grew, but those tortures are not who I am; they got in the way of who I was. And now I am clearing that shit away.