THE PAST CIRCLES ROUND AGAIN

Mom had her first round of chemo Wednesday. It was an incredibly long day. A doctors appointment and then three hours of infusion. It was very weird. I couldn’t concentrate, but was bored out of my tree. The incongruence of this made my therapist go hmmm. This is not a common phenomenon.

The reason it came up was Wednesday night I had a complete and total need to flee my house. I don’t know what happened, but I was laying in bed, looking for something to read. Stopped on “Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation” by Suzette Boon and others. “Don’t you think when you’ve been through something like you were with your mother, you should read something NOT trauma related?” “Ninety percent of my book shelf is trauma related.” “Then you need to expand your bookshelf.” So that happened. The other theories are that I’m empathic and picked up all the energy of people around me, the six people and their care-givers, all getting cancer related treatment, and it hit me when I finally had a chance to unwind.

Likely, though, it was a somatic flashback, harkening back to a time when I felt trapped. Only this time I wasn’t trapped. So I grabbed my bag and bugged out. But it wasn’t a thoughtful, I’m leaving because I can, it was a mindless flight. Which is not good. Fortunately, I had enough sense to go someplace safe, which was my friends cafe. Straight to the basement. Where I just typed up the last of my poetry. We had a mis-hap a few weeks ago, where I didn’t realize my poetry was only on the cloud, with links on my desktop. I deleted everything off the cloud, only to watch in horror as my files disappeared one by one. By the time I had finished that, I was feeling somewhat human again. It’s very frustrating how the past keeps circling round, often in unexpected and out of the blue ways.

Sitting with mom at the hospital was a very intense experience in a way. You’re sitting there, with people in very stages of cancer, at different points in their recovery. There were tears, there was laughter. For me, it was an uncomfortable reckoning, coming face to face with my own mortality. I have been suicidal many times, have attempted once. Suicidal ideation is a near constant companion. But this was different. The facing of a slow, painful demise. And everyone there is facing the same thing. The cancer centre has everyone in what they call pods. Six people to a pod, with a number of nurses in each one. Each person can bring one person with them. So twelve people, plus nurses. All cancer patients. All receiving treatment. A lot of energy in the air. A lot of energy. I hesitate to say it’s negative, because it certainly isn’t all negative, but it’s very charged.

I guess my system was over-charged and went off the rails on Wednesday, and then again on Thursday. Thursday wasn’t as bad, I had the presence of mind to email my therapist, and I made the decision not to run, but to stay put, to prove to my system that it was safe, there was no danger, that we didn’t have to leave. My friend helped me over text with some flashback protocols, and then I was able to ground myself by touching each book on my bookshelves and saying the author and title. I did it under my breath, but the act really helped me calm down.

Last night I went out with the girls, and then went home. I had a small feeling of panic, but was able to breathe through it. Things never last forever.

AND IT BEGINS…

So much to write about. Not sure where to start. Since Mom’s cancer diagnosis, I’ve been avoiding thinking about it. I had no choice but to face it dead on today. Mom had an appointment with her oncology doctor and I had to go with her to take notes and make sure she doesn’t forget anything or get confused. She starts chemo next week. Going to most likely lose her hair. It has been down to her waist as long as I can remember. So she’s getting it all cut off on Saturday. Poor thing. She had tears in her eyes thinking about it. And my life is now, for the next six months, revolving around her chemo treatments. Three hours every second Wednesday. Plus the consult with the doctor before each treatment. Only Stage Two cancer, which is not too bad. A really invasive, aggressive cancer that was encapsulated in a mucinous pre-cancerous mass. She’s pretty lucky. Without the chemo, there’s a twenty-five percent chance that it will come back. With it, the chance goes down to fifteen percent. She is going to become very cold sensitive, to the point where touching things in the fridge is going to cause neuropathy for a while. Cold air, cold drinks, all no noes. She is going to be officially immunocompromised. And I can only imagine how tired she’s going to be. The chemo attacks fast growing cells, like the ones in your mouth and your stomach.

She is easily discombobulated these days. And dad just gets frustrated with her. If she is developing dementia, I worry about how dad is going to handle it and how the chemo is going to affect it. There’s a lot of good reasons for them to move to P.E.I. once mom is better, but my reasons for wanting to stay behind are just as, if not more, valid. So in a year I’ll be homeless with my boys. Hopefully I’ll be able to get into subsidized housing before then, but the wait lists are huge. I need to stay in my city because I likely won’t be able to afford a car, and my therapist, my psychiatrist, my GP, my youngest sons ADHD specialist, and my older sons therapist are all here in the city. The mental health support down east is even worse than it is here. At least I’ve been able to get the help I need. And all my friends are here. How is an anti-social introvert with mental illness supposed to make friends? It’s not like my sister and I get along very well. More than a week together, and things get really tense.

My therapist has given me a half price discount on my counseling so I can start saving and clearing up my debt. She’s wonderful. I love her so much. As my therapist. Yes, there is some transference going on, but it’s nothing I don’t recognize for what it is and can handle. It didn’t help at the beginning that she is my perfect fantasy. A petite pixie with silver grey hair. The type I would spend all night in the corner of the bar trying to muster up the courage to buy her a drink. Once in a while I get distracted by her attractiveness, but I can cover it up with my dissociation. Fortunately for me, she maintains such tight boundaries that there is no room for me to mistake anything for more than professional concern. I mean, after three years I still don’t know if she has a partner. I only know her potential orientation from the name of her partner in her father’s obituary (which I found when digging around the internet for her). Her mother’s obituary listed no partner, but Fariya, a couple years ago said “they” like to go skiing up north. So there was one. There was a picture of a kitten on her desk, so I assume she has a cat. That’s the sum total I know about her.

She starts next week. Going to most likely lose her hair. It has been down to her waist as long as I can remember. So she’s getting it all cut off on Saturday. Poor thing. She had tears in her eyes thinking about it. And my life is now, for the next six months, revolving around her chemo treatments. Three hours every second Wednesday. Plus the consult with the doctor before each treatment. Only Stage Two cancer, which is not too bad. A really invasive, aggressive cancer that was encapsulated in a mucinous pre-cancerous mass. She’s pretty lucky. Without the chemo, there’s a twenty-five percent chance that it will come back. With it, the chance goes down to fifteen percent. She is going to become very cold sensitive, to the point where touching things in the fridge is going to cause neuropathy for a while. Cold air, cold drinks, all no noes. She is going to be officially immunocompromised. And I can only imagine how tired she’s going to be. The chemo attacks fast growing cells, like the ones in your mouth and your stomach.

So our lives are about to turn upside down for a while.

ONE ROUGH WEEK

It’s been a while since I’ve written. So much has happened. We almost lost my mom after her cancer surgery. She had two blood clots, one on each lung. And no one wants to tell me anything. I talked to my mom in the morning, and she was coming home the next day. An hour later I talk to my aunt and find out mom’s staying for a few more days. When my dad and my sister come home, I talk to her. Find out what’s going on. Also that my dad has a leaky liver, that’s why he quit drinking. My sister tells me that no one wants to tell me anything because they’re afraid of setting me off. Which means setting my anxiety and depression off. Like I have no coping mechanisms. It’s so frustrating. Mom could have died, and no one wants me to know. Sigh. It’s better to know where I stand, I guess, so I know to ask more direct questions.

Moms surgery was also the anniversary of my most recent sexual assault. The struggle not to self harm was so very very real. And then I found some sharps. Tucked into the staple box in my art kit. My world reeled. Fortunately, I have some very good friends who were able to talk me down from it. Three different text conversations with three very different foci, but all with the same outcome: I stayed safe. Something even my safety contract couldn’t guarantee.

It is so hard to articulate exactly what goes through my mind when the urge strikes. Relentless begging for release. But release from what exactly? Too many feelings? Not enough feelings? Release from memory, from thought? From the too too much. It all gets to be too much. Existing. Being. Living. Breathing. Feeling trapped in a mind that is malfunctioning. Emotions hi-jacked all the time. Never being 100% present in my own life. That’s the hardest part, I’m coming to realize. The fact that I zone out all the time. I don’t know if I’m zoning out more, or if I’m just more aware of how often I do. Vera, my therapist, says it’s fine tuned to happen so often, and that I’m just starting to notice. So I take her word for it. She’s the expert on all things dissociative and traumatic. And, more importantly, I trust her and what she says. It’s been a long time since I could trust someone so implicitly to always do what they honestly believe is in my best interest.

ON MY KNEES

This time of year is so hard. I feel ready to throw in the towel, crawl into bed, and never come out. The siren song of the razor blades is strong and sweet, necessitating bringing my thoughts back to my safety contract over and over. My eyes are permanently on the verge of tears, watery and weepy. That one man can bring me to my knees in despair. That the memory of one man can bring me down, leave me curled on the floor, shattered and broken.

The memories come fast and thick. Leave me whirling in confusion as to where I am in time and place. The nausea and the disorientation. Rock is huge, always, these days. My mom is going for cancer surgery next week, so I have to hide how bad I’m feeling so she doesn’t worry. I’m not doing a very good job of it, but she isn’t getting the depth of my shadow self.

Shadow self. My being crawling to The Pit. The body tremors as I fight it. As I fight the flashbacks, the memories of violence done to my body; to my being. Knowing that I can’t let him win. But the body, the mind, wants to cave; to collapse in a puddle of blood and tears.

The days long, the nights longer. Soaked sheets as the body remembers the torment; wakes in a frozen panic. “Just move one finger, just a little bit,” encourages my therapist. So hard. So hard. But I do it. Then the next one. Defiance that he hasn’t completely broken me. My body comes back to me, sore and achy, but mine.