REHABILITATION

I’m re-writing history
Changing the ending

Rejection turns to freedom
My bonds broken

Released into the wild
Free to rehabilitate myself

Who am I?

and

Where do I go from here?

SECRETS

Secrets kept since childhood. A cousin who molested me. A rape at fifteen by a thirty year old man. Another rape three and a half years ago. The moments of terror blend together, sometimes. And I’ve carried this trauma by myself, for so long. I just recently started opening up to friends about it. And the support has been unequivocally amazing. My friends are amazing. My family, not so much. So much so, that when the rape at fifteen happened, and I tried to tell my mom, the minute she heard “I had a date go bad,” she gave me a look of pure disgust and turned away from me. Bodily turned from me and walked away. The kind of betrayal that runs deep. So I’ve never trusted her since. Never trusted anyone since. If the woman who birthed you and is supposed to be there for you turns her back, where is there left to go?

This week has been hard. My mom went in for surgery on Tuesday to have a complete hysterectomy as they found a cyst on what they thought was her ovary. Turns out it was a growth on her bowel. So she is in the hospital and my sister has flown in from PEI to help out around the house. My sister and I have a very strained relationship. As the baby of the family, she was pretty coddled as a child. And she never suffered at the hands of dad like I did. I was the black sheep, and she always sided with both dad and my brother. So the line was drawn, with the family on one side, and me on the other. Is it any wonder I don’t do “family” with them?

Tuesday night my dad and brother had a fight, and my brother drove off drunk. So my sister had a good cry on my shoulder. We talked about Mark, (my brother) and how he was the golden child and how much of an asshole he has become. She asked what made me start getting into feminist literature and poetry, and I told her the #metoo movement flipped a switch. When she responded with, “it did for a lot of women. They no longer felt alone,” I almost spoke up. But instead, I just nodded and said, “Yeah, it did”.

So today we’re driving to the hospital, and talking about the J Dubs, which is what my sister calls Jehovah’s Witnesses, the faith we were raised in the and the faith my parents still follow. I took a chance and told her that I struggle with my sexuality, as I’m bi. She said that really doesn’t surprise her. And then she really surprised me, “You know, no matter what, I’ll always support you.” At this point, I go out on a limb and tell her what I’ve never told a family member. I told her about my rape at fifteen. I did not tell her about the subsequent relationship that developed, or the depths of depravity he brought me to. And she just held my hand while we walked into the hospital.

So now I’m in knots wondering if I did the right thing. I hope she doesn’t tell mom. I don’t think she will. She won’t want to worry mom about anything while she’s recuperating. The only thing she asked is why I never told, and when I told her mom’s reaction, she just said, “Oh.”

Secrets are hard to bear, but the spilling of them, after so long, isn’t any easier.

GUILTY

A child on trial
Her torn innocence
On the stand

Ashamed and degraded
Her sins laid bare
For all to see

Being needy
Her greatest crime
Wanting to be loved

And she believed
His honeyed words
Even as violated her

A child on trial
Herself The Judge
The Jury, The Executioner

BROKEN

This one is a hard read. It was hard to write. Sexual abuse is a difficult topic, yet I find myself writing about it often. So much of my life has been spent recovering, it feels that’s my only identity at times.

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last vestiges of my innocence
Torn asunder

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last tears
I’ll ever shed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Sense of self
Annihilated

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My will to fight
Crushed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
With kindness
In the aftermath

Broken
Shattered on the bed
An unfamiliar
Tenderness

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Dichotomy
Of words and actions

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Confusion
Leaves me
Whirling

Broken
Shattered on the bed

You hurt me
You heal me

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My broken body
My broken soul

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Discarded then
Like so much debris

SOMATIC MEMORY

The past couple of days have been really really tough. Stuck between hyper and hypo arousal constantly shifting back and forth. Moments where I’m overwhelmed by fear and can’t breathe, and then moments where the slightest sound makes me jump. Even though my mind finds no connection between the here and now and this feeling of doom, I have a full blown fear reody response. My therapist did get back to me today, (YAY!) and she said it sounds like I’m having somatic flashbacks. I should have recognized this right away. What is a somatic flashback? It’s your body remembering, not your brain. “Memory is reminding you about the state of your being all those years in childhood and adolescence when you were in danger” is how my therapist worded it in her email to me today. I lived in fear growing up. Beatings from my father were a daily, consistent thing with him. The only thing that was. And I had a real rough session this week. Last week brought up a lot of history, how no one noticed the sad little me acting out and begging for attention. And this week brought more of that to the fore. And just like I did in adolescence, I’m living a double life of sorts here at home again. My parents don’t know about my cousin molesting me. They don’t know about the abusive relationship I was in at 15. They don’t know about my sexual assault three years ago. They don’t know I’m living with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder. They think my therapy is for my anxiety. I have to keep so much hidden, while living in the house where I grew up abused. They say you can’t heal in the environment that broke you, but I am. Granted, things are different now. I’m a grown woman with a voice. My body and being are different. It’s now 2019 and I am no longer in danger from anyone.

So I orient to the here and now. I’m in my room, the room I grew up in, focusing on what’s different. My bookcases, the books in those cases. My bed. The decorations on the wall. The flooring. The sheets on my bed. All things that are from the present. Nothing in my room remains from the past except my bear, Bettina, who has been with me since I was six months old. She has been the one constant in my life. I have been struggling with the desire to self harm this weekend. That, too, was a constant in my life for many years. It had its purpose then. But things are different now. I need to remember this with the very core of my being. All my emotional parts need to recognize that we are no longer trapped in trauma time. I have so many new coping tools and a great support network. Parts of me may be trapped in the past, but I have the strength, courage and determination to show them a better future.

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

It’s time to say goodbye. To say goodbye to the old me. The stuck me. The unmotivated me. The me that sits on the couch all day, thinking about all the things I’d like to do, if only I could get up of the couch. The habits formed while in a severe depression slough slowly, not wanting to be given up. They certainly don’t go without a lot of will power. Something I have been short of my whole life. I have started seeing a Feldenkrais practitioner, who has done wonders for my extremely bad posture resulting in bad knees and a bad back. I’ve also started Qi Gong, which is also helping with my posture and joint issues. My therapist states that Qi Gong is all about fluidity, something my body is definitely lacking. It’s a Chinese standing meditation, so it’s good for my mind as well as my body. I’m not up to practicing it every day, but I’m up to three times a week. My goal is to make it to every day. I’ve started doing it twice a day on the days I do it. I tend to go back to bed after the kids have left for school, but my therapist wanted me to try to practice at that time instead. My circadian rhythm is completely out of sync. I tend to stay up into the early hours and sleep during the days. I’ve always been a night owl. No one there yelling at you, or hitting you, telling you what a screw up you are. Reading in peace. The world is a calm place. Something my young self needed desperately.

It’s time to embrace the daylight. And with it, life again. Spring is just around the corner, an excellent time for new beginnings. I never understood why we celebrate the new year in January, when everything is just cold and dreary. The spring equinox makes much more sense to me. The earth is waking up from it’s cold slumber, and everything is fresh and new. I always feel more energized in the spring, and this spring more so, as I have been in the depths of soul destroying depression. Thoughts of suicide have been a daily companion for so long that I now only notice them in their absence. The only down side is that with their disappearance, the sirens call of self harm gets louder. It has been months since I caved to their voices, and I don’t intend on doing so again. I quit smoking just after Christmas, now to give up vaping, the lesser of two evils. I am slowly decreasing the amount of nicotine in the juice I vape, so it will only be a matter of time before I completely nicotine free. Another step to the new me. Saying goodbye to old habits.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORDERLINE?

I’ve been thinking about diagnoses and what they mean to the one receiving them. Usually they come with a sense of relief: I’m not crazy. These symptoms do mean something. But what happens when the diagnosis means you are crazy? What does that mean? I’ve been fighting the BPD diagnosis for years. Never had a therapist agree with it, though I’ve received the diagnosis from more than one psychiatrist. Recently there has been a movement in the trauma treatment community to change it to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My current therapist, who is a gift sent from wherever such things come from, explained it to me in a way that made me feel a lot better. It’s not that I’m not fixable, which is the prevailing feeling among most old school practitioners; it’s just that my brain needs a different way of fixing it. I’ll never be neuro-typical. But I can learn to adapt and rearrange the way I process information.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD; also known as complex trauma disorder) is a psychological disorder that can develop in response to prolonged, repeated experience of interpersonal trauma in a context in which the individual has little or no chance of escape. (wikipedia) The resulting symptoms closely mirror that of BPD. The key difference between BPD and C-PTSD is that symptoms of BPD stem from an inconsistent self-concept and C-PTSD symptoms are provoked by external triggers. The inconsistent self-concept happens as a direct result of the early childhood trauma or ongoing trauma with no escape. Combine the two, you end up with a very fractured sense of self. Typical therapies for BPD used are DBT (Dialectic Behaviour Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), neither of which address the underlying trauma.

I grew up always afraid of my father. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t. That’s how early the abuse started. He was never physically violent to my mother, but he was very much emotionally and verbally abusive. In typical abuser fashion, he never started until after they were married and she was “trapped” with a baby. My therapist explained to me that babies can pick up what’s going on around them, so if my mother was anxious, sad, or afraid, I would’ve understood something was wrong. When asked why she stayed, she recently told me she couldn’t admit to her mother that her mother was right. So her pride ruined my life. Well, my life up to this point. I’m taking charge of it now, and learning to say no to the shit I don’t have to put up with.

Add to the mix a cousin who taught me things no six year old should ever be aware of, a very abusive relationship at a young age with a much older man, and a more recent sexual assault, is it any wonder that my sense of self is fractured? I’m now learning that I matter, that what I want and feel are valid. Novel concepts to be learning at 45. I wish I had the confidence of my young sons. They know they’re important, they understand body autonomy, and while they may not yet know what it is, they live their lives with a purpose.

I long for the day when I can live beyond the day to day, minute to minute, second to second it takes to survive sometimes. But everyday I’m getting stronger. A solid therapist with strong boundaries is key. I’m very fortunate to have found one. She holds the space while I try to feel whatever emotions are coming up. She holds it without judgement and without forcing it. Which is what someone who has suffered much trauma needs. I am doing EMDR, (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) along with a combination of other modalities. I take a mood stabilizer to boost the effect of my anti-depressant, and I take an alpha blocker, which helps prevent the nightmares. Being taught coping mechanisms (Babette Rothschilde is an amazing source for this), I can even manage my panic attacks and flashbacks. I’m in a stable relationship, I’m a pretty decent parent, and a damn good friend. None of which should be possible if I was truly only suffering from BPD.

So what does the diagnosis mean to the one receiving it? In my case, nothing at all. It bothered me at first, and if I had received it years ago, before I started working with my current therapist, it might have destroyed me; taking away any hope of ever getting better. No, it’s a label that might help my disability claim, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t define who I am as a person. It changes nothing. My trauma work is the most important thing I can do for myself, and in doing it, I will free myself from the bindings of a difficult diagnosis with a less than helpful prognosis.

BIPOLAR OR NOT

Last year my doctor sent me to see a psychiatrist for an assessment and med adjustment. He’s generally a decent general practitioner, but we’ve been struggling for years to get me stable. I have a history of needed to take three months or so off of whatever job I’m doing because of stress. My previous therapist thought I might have a type of bipolar. No one was sure, so off for an assessment I go. PTSD, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder,
and cyclothymia. Which I didn’t understand. I get depressed enough that I’m suicidal, and I’ve made an attempt in the past. That being said, a mood stabilizer in conjunction with my anti-depressant has made all the difference. That, and I’m now working with a trauma specialist. Doing EMDR. This year, I went for another assessment. A different psychiatrist this time, who read the notes of the previous one. Saw me three times, instead of just forty minutes. No bipolar diagnosis this time. PTSD, persistent depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and general anxiety. Says my symptoms of BPD overlap a lot with the BP, and that the meds often work in tandem together when the antidepressant isn’t enough even without the presence of bipolar. We talked about the BPD diagnosis, and the main reason for the diagnosis is history: self injury, suicide attempts, and, most telling, the feelings of self-loathing and feeling empty and numb. She said with the amount of trauma I’ve experienced, it was inevitable that I would wind up with BPD. So now I’m struggling with yet another identity, one that I have avoided for years. I remember my ex yelling at me, at one point, “I’m not the only borderline here”, yet I was the only one actively seeking help. My therapist told me not to worry about the diagnosis. It basically means I have C-PTSD, (Complex Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder) and I’m doing the hard work to get better. So that’s something at least. It explains these long, empty nights where I feel so numb and the siren call of self-injury is so strong, even though I’m not feeling depressed. Just numb.

A BLACKNESS DARK

In the dark
Defenses are thin
The monsters howl
Begging to be let in

The rain falls down
A staccato beat on the roof
Echoing the tears in my heart
That will not fall

Access denied
Feeling aloof
To the pain in my soul
A blackness dark
Coats my very existence

The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze

I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep

Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears

ONCE, LONG AGO

I’ve written about the past abusive relationship I was in from 15 to 17. How he trained me to be his play toy. A lesson I learned so well I had no sense of self worth outside of my body as an offering. One of the ways I process my shit is by writing. This is painful to read; trust me, it was painful to write.

Once, long ago

You told me that you loved me

Worshipped my body

With mouth and lash

Taught me that I existed

For others pleasures

Not my own

Though my body responded

Once, long ago

You claimed me as your own

Red marks on my body

Leather collar around my neck

You sold me

Watched as I was used

The ultimate symbol

Of your ownership

Once, long ago

I believed you

As you stripped me

Of clothing and will

Broken to

Your base desires

Years later

Still offering my body

Lost in a sea

Of misplaced desire

Seeking solace

For something that should never

Have been missing

HOLDING MY OWN

How good it feels to be away from the edge of The Pit. Despite being mostly housebound due to inclement weather, I have been feeling pretty good. Maybe because I haven’t had to be social. Who knows. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Can’t help but wonder, though, if this is a shift toward hypomania. the pdoc I saw didn’t see a bipolar diagnosis. Borderline Personality Disorder, Complex PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and, finally, Persistent Depressive Disorder. She said there is a lot of overlap with BP and BPD, so sometimes it’s hard to get a clear diagnosis.

A new year always brings with it some reflection. I’m not the type to make new years resolutions,; my goals change as I grow and change. And I wanted to take the time to give thanks to the woman who led me through the darkness to the light. I wrote a poem for her, and gave it to her just before we broke for the holidays. She never said anything about it, so I should probably not be embarrassed by it. I thought I’d share it with you.

A ship with a broken compass

Tossed on the waves

Hither and yon

Sinking slowly

Trying to find my way

By a North Star

Lost in a sky

Of darkness and despair

The clouds thick

Ever present

Blotting out the light

Along came a guide

Showed me how to mend

That broken compass

To fight my way

Back to the light

Behind the clouds

The siren song

Is still loud at times

But I have a gift

A toolkit

Cobbled together

Patiently guided

With grace and skill

To heal the wounded

Children within

RAVENOUS

Feel the need in your soul

The dark longing

Deep within

Face to the sky

Hungering for truth

For peace

Aching for something lost

An empty vessel

Full of want

Full of desire

Craving something so deep

It will never be sated

The ebony darkness

Caresses you

A lover that calls to you

Seductive and false

The moonlight dances

On the scars on your skin

On your psyche

It knows all your secrets

Even the ones

You keep from yourself

The hunger

The void

The vast emptiness

Within you

The one that calls for comfort

In any shape

In any form

The one that keeps

You up at night

Cold sweat on the pillow

The Beast has no name

Knows only it is ravenous

Rapacious

And under the moon

Most powerful

The starlight

Tickles its hunger

For flesh

For the blade

For release

In any shape

By any means

The Void so deep

An abyss in your soul

Nothing fills it

Nothing sates it

No warmth

No heat

Endless longing

Meaningless sounds

Spew forth

Conveying

How voracious

The appetite is

For flesh

For blood

Anything to take the edge off

If only

For the moment

SIREN

The last few weeks have been brutal. I know in the very depths of my being that things will get better, but right now they’re just so hard.

SIREN

I stare at the water

It’s aqua waves calling

Inviting to slip under

Into Oblivion

I walk away

From the Sirens call

The blades in my hand

Beckoning tantalyzing

One quick swipe

And freedom

I walk away

From the Sirens call

Through the heart

The silver moonlight

Dances on the thinnest of knives

Kill the heart

That causes all your pain

I walk away

From the Sirens call

I walk away

From the Sirens call

TENDEREST TRUTH

It seems the creative juices only flow when I’m spiraling downward.  Maybe that’s not accurate.  I’ve been numb for months now, so there has been little to no creative output at all.  The meds I’m on, they dull all emotion.  I couldn’t even cry when my beloved Nanna passed away.  Currently, my new p-doc is changing my meds.  I’m on a fairly high dose of Abilify to stabilize my moods, and offset the hypo-mania that anti-depressants alone induce.  Hopefully this will allow some feeling other than the despair that I feel creeping over me.

A few weeks ago I had a trying EMDR session that left me stuck feeling like five year old defenseless me.  And it has taken a while to shake that feeling.  So much so, that I feel myself descending into The Pit.  I’m holding on tight to the edge, using all my tools to keep from following the siren song into Oblivion.

I was around four or five when my dad really started using corporal punishment on my tender behind and hands.  And being stuck, feeling like that defenseless little tyke again has me reeling.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s 2018, almost 2019, and it’s been a very long time since my dad was violent toward me.  And I know he’ll never be violent again; threatening to call the cops the last time he hit me was fear enough.  He knew that there was no way I was going to be a victim any longer.  I was just shy of 18.  And yet here I am, almost 46, and feeling like a little kid again. 

Since I’ve been unable to write much, my therapist has been encouraging me to “draw it out”.  My drawings all look like they were done by a six year old, and I’m not sure how much is my lack of talent or if my art is being derailed by my inner wounded child.  Regardless, drawing some of it seems to have unlocked my ability to write.  It’s coming back slowly.  Here is my latest:

The earth shatters

For a cold moment

No light, no sound

Caught in a void

Of time and space

Where nothing feels real

Then the pain hits

Sharp as a dagger

Finely honed

Soul shattering

Life defying

Trained to find the tenderest truths 

WHO AM I

Numb

An emotional lockdown

Fearful

That once the walls crumble

There will be no relief

Sorrow

Runs deep

Permeates my very essence

If I allow myself to feel

The full depths

Would I ever recover

Fear of getting “better”

Of never getting “better”

I’m not sure I could bear

That this is the way

It will always be

Yearning

For a family that doesn’t exist

For what worth have i

If I’m rejected by those

Who share my blood

That nameless ache

Undefinable

Intangible

Pervasive

Both physically

And in my pysche

A part of me

Steadfast

True

Who am I?

IF ONLY

It’s been a long time since I posted anything. Life has been dark and I have been in a state of broken disrepair, unable to write.

Tonight it appears the dam is cracking and I can write about the childhood that broke me.

IF ONLY

If my presence offends you

I can only beg forgiveness

And apologize for my sins

However slight

The pain

The tears

Never knowing

What might set you off

If only

If only I was quieter

If only

If only I was more docile

If only

If only I was the daughter you wanted

Not the one you received

Not wanted

Unplanned

A mistake

I don’t ever remember

Not knowing this

Shut up

I don’t want to hear it

You know why

Heartbroken

Alone in my room

Snot and tears

Mingling on the

Flowered bed spread

No succour

A pariah

Hours alone

Today you wonder why

I need so much

Time by myself

You trained me

Isolated me

Self reliant

To not need

To not feel

To not cry

WAY TOO FAST

Pulled down by the undertow

Staring up at the sun

Unattainable

Sinking fast

Tired of the fight

Can’t keep my head above the water

Current moving down

Way too fast

The salt on my cheeks

Can’t look up up

Overwhelmed by the tide

Way too fast

Drowning in my tears

Can’t breathe

Can’t see beyond the blood

Life drags by

Way too fast

SHAME AND SELF LOATHING

I’ve been struggling with the facts that I stayed in a very abusive relationship with a much older man when I was 15.  I stayed until he ended it shortly before my 18th birthday because, as he put it, I got too old.  Despite the reassurances of my amazing therapist, Vera, I somehow still feel responsible for staying. Over the holidays, my young teenage self was badly triggered and I spent a solid two weeks,  at least, battling the urge to self harm.  Angry Dude (another part of me that has separated from the rest) has been bubbling up with rage and the two have been feeding off of each other. I finally let Angry Dude out, with some careful boundaries.  NO SELF-HARM!!!  Instead, he did some writing.  Harsh, angry words at me for going back again and again.  Here is his story:
IDIOT
You went back

Again and again

Knowing full well

What was in store
IDIOT
You hungered for 

His small mercies

Carfully played

After he used you
Good Girl

My Slut
Positive reinforcement

Being claimed

Being wanted
IDIOT
Was it enough

Was it worth it
The fist in the hair

The violent sex

The beatings
Was it worth it

Going back

Again and again
IDIOT

Not strong enough

To walk away

Though given ample

Opportunity
IDIOT
You let him do things 

No one should endure

Just for his approval

Those damning words

That get me every time
Good GIrl

My Slut

IDIOT
How could you not see

The end

How could you think 

It would last forever
IDIOT
Did you really think 

He wanted YOU? 

Claimed

He said

Your heart

Your body

Your mind

Mine
IDIOT
To be so naive

The beatings

The gang rapes

The timeouts in the closet
IDIOT
There was nothing you

Wouldn’t do for him

Nothing you wouldn’t

Let him do
Your innocence

Your dignity
You gave it all up
For what? 
A gentle touch

A kind word

Thrown like a bone

To a starving dog
IDIOT
You lost so much

Of yourself

Unable to find

Your true self
Given all up for

A gentle word

A false sense of belonging
IDIOT
How could you not see

What he was doing to you

Using you

Corrupting you

Defiling you
IDIOT
How could you believe 

How could you keep

Going back

For more

And more
IDIOT
Now you’re broken 

Beyond repair

Vera can’t help fix

The shattered

Remnants

Of your destroyed

Soul
IDIOT

ALL ALONE

I met him when I was 15.  His wife brought me home to “meet” him.  He took my innocence and made me his. Shared me with his friends. Trained me to do his bidding, to serve unflinching.  Scars I’m still trying to heal.  Thanks for coming on the journey to healing with me. 
You take my hand
I’m all alone

You caress my body

I’m all alone
A crowd of strangers 

I’m all alone

Touching me

I’m all alone

Entering me

I’m all alone

Your words try to comfort me

I’m all alone

Empty words of love

I’m all alone

INTO THE DARKNESS

The lengths that I would go through

Begging on my knees

Not to go

Go into the darkness

Into the past

The broken girl

Fractured and shattered

Oh so many hurts 

Overflowing

Into my today

No brakes

Flying through

The memories

Terrified

Overwhelmed

Wanting to hide

Being on my knees

Not to go

THE RAIN

I feel the rain

Cold against my skin

A counterpoint to the tears

Rolling down my cheeks
Thunder crashes

In the skies above

Echoing the tumult 

In my heart
Lightning jaggéd

Against the sky

Bright flashes of pain

Reverberating 

Through,my soul

EBB AND FLOW

Old familiar wounds

Never quite closing

Never fully healed
Open at a touch

A glance

A memory
Tearing apart

Once again

My heart my soul
Who am I

Besides a ball of pain

Ebbing and flowing

Like the tide

THE AIR

I’ve recently started EMDR for my PTSD. And it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Going back into the memory while tracking your therapists hand movements. And the fact that those memories that you have tried so hard to bottle up now run rampant through your brain. Through your waking hours. Through the few hours of respite you get a night. And the worse time of all, that gap between wakefulness and unconsciousness.

Laying in bed

Your ghost beside me

Sucking the air

Out of the room

I remember your hands

Your body

Taking what you wanted

Not what I gave

Memory

Continues to suck

All the air

Out of the room

I couldn’t breathe then

I can’t breathe now

Here alone

Laying in bed

Violating me

Over and over again

Sucking the air

Out of the room

Tears I couldn’t shed then

Pour now down my cheeks

Torment and despair

Sucking the air

Out of the room

ALONE IN THE LIGHT

Alone in the night

Lights out

In the dark

A silent scream

As you touch me

Alone in the night

You haunt my waking hours

My sleepless nights

Can’t breathe as your body

Crushes mine

Alone in the night

Une shed tears

I can’t turn you off

Or make you disappear

Alone in the light

I feel you

Smell you

I can’t escape

What you’ve done to me

INTO THE LIGHT

My therapist has been assigning me art homework over the past few months as a different way to approach my healing from assorted traumas. This week I have to create a supportive greeting card to send to myself. The homework requires a letter or poem identifying the losses from said trauma and offering strength and support. I, obviously, opted to a write a poem. Let me know what you think. If it is supportive.

Cruel hands

Cruel heart

Laid waste your innocence

Your tender soul

The days are dark

The nights darker still

The light shall rise again

To dry your tears

Come take my hand

I’ll hold you through

The black storm raging

And come together

Into the light

POWER OF WORDS 

Power of words
Assault rape
Shared with gang raped
Gang raped trafficked
Too rough boundaries violated
Play abuse

Every word
Used to gentle the experience
Dashed on the rocks
Like the waves along the shore

No minimizing
No sugarcoating
No gentling of the
Power of words

INSOMNIA

I suffer from frequent bouts of insomnia.   I’ve learned to live and parent on like too no sleep.  And when the insomnia rears its ugly head my mild DID acts up more.  I don’t really have alters.  I’m not that severe.  But my subconscious or unconscious has divvied up parts of myself.  There’s the angry dude. There’s the young broken teenage girl. And there’s Squirrel. Who seems to me my optimistic toddler/child who represents the part of me around the time my cousin started molesting me and before.  I “woke up” to this scrawled in very juvenile handwriting. Signed SJr.  Enjoy.
 

The night
Thick with palpable fear
The air
Redolent with terror
I WILL NOT CANNOT sleep
For the dreams that come
Terrify
My very soul 

SJr.

OBLIVION

The sirens call
“Come”
With each crash
Of the waves upon the shore

“Home”
“Rest”
“Peace”
“Come”

The sirens call
Promising comfort
Freedom from
Distress
Freedom from
Pain
Freedom from
Heartache

Clearly I see
Tempted I feel

To sink beneath the waves
Into cold oblivion

MOTHER

Did you ever wonder
What I thought of you

You should have protected me
Instead
Complicit in your silence

Did you ever wonder
How deep the bruises went
The scars on my soul
That won’t heal

Did you ever wonder
At the lies I told
To cover the marks

The ones that faded
On my skin

Do you ever wonder
At the lengths I would go to
To ease the pain

Did you ever wonder
At the pain on my eyes
Still present
After all this time

Do you ever wonder
If I hate you

SHATTERED

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last vestiges of my innocence
Torn asunder

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last tears
I’ll ever shed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Sense of self
Annihilated

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My will to fight
Crushed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
With kindness
In the aftermath

Broken
Shattered on the bed
An unfamiliar
Tenderness

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Dichotomy
Of words and actions

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Confusion
Leaves me whirling

Broken
Shattered on the bed
You hurt me
You heal me

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My broken body
My broken soul

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Discarded at the end
Like so much debris

FOR A LITTLE WHILE

The blood flows
Taking the pain
The heartache
With it
A temporary release
If only for a little while

Escape as the blood flows
The endorphin rush
Freedom at last
If only for a little while

Past and present
No longer matter
Only the here and now
As the blood flows
Bringing with it
Sweet release

If only for a little while

RELEASE

The blades they beckon
The blades they call
Crimson rivulets
Running down

Release
Relief from the pain
Of too many
Yesterdays

So many years ago
Still torment me
As fresh as though
Experienced today

The blades they beckon
The blades they call
Crimson rivulets
Running down

THAT HOLE

PTSD really sucks. Every time you think you’re out of the rabbit hole something slams you back in. Well, no more. Letting the memories of my traumatic past ruin my now, causing me ty o fear my future, stops here.

A scent on the breeze
A whisper on the wind
Leaves me reeling
Falling back into that hole

Fickle memory
There’s no one around
But I hear you feel you
Falling back into that hole

Memory wreaks havoc
On my mind
My heart my soul
But I stop this time from
Falling back into that hole

VULNERABILITY PART TWO

I was talking to my therapist this week about tears, and how I’ve only cried once in the past 12 years. Which led her to using dirty words like vulnerable and feelings. I made the mistake of saying that crying is weakness, which, of course, turned into a long, mostly one-sided discussion on how tears are human and to be human is to be vulnerable. As is often the case, I didn’t have a lot to say at the time. It takes a few days of ruminating and processing to be able to articulate my response. So I send her an email at 1:30 in the morning: When I cry over something, it’s a physical manifestation of something I am vulnerable to/about. When I open up and allow myself to be vulnerable, I am displaying my weakness. Once that happens, I am open to being hurt. So no more hurt means not being vulnerable.

And as is so often the case, the epiphany came through my poetry.

My eyes are dry
No you won’t ever see me weep
Break my bones
You’ll never see
My broken spirit

The broken soul
You toyed with
You’ll never see me cry
Never know the hurt
You laid upon my heart

Careless caresses
You never meant
Empty words
That belied the truth

Hard and jaded
No one touches me
In the secret places
of my heart

ANYTHING 

Long days
Longer nights
The scars on my soul
Aching

Aching for the
Unknowable
Unattainable
Dead eyes in the mirror
Staring back

Belie the turmoil
Just under the skin
Marked in the desire
To feel something

Anything

THERE

Reach deep
For something
That may or may not
Be there

Reach deep
For that ever elusive
Sense of self
That may or may not
Be there

Reach deep
Deeper still
For that kernel
That yearns
For the light

That may or may not
Be there

MORE THAN

All you did
Was take
My love
My heart
My soul
My innocence

All you did
Was give me
Hurt
Pain
Loss
Abandonment

Just a child
Taken in
Nurtured
Twisted
To fit your
Unholy needs

Left me
Empty
Broken
Tarnished
Lonely
Betrayed

A long journey
From that shattered
Youth
But I will do more
Than just
Survive

MONSTERS IN MY MIND

Another sleepless night
Afraid to close my eyes
The monsters in my mind
Come out and play

Years go by
The memories have yet to fade
Still sullied by your
Unwelcome presence

I wake in terror
Feeling you
Smelling you
Hearing yiir voice

And again
And again
I want to die

RELEASE ME

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

I remember your touch
Your smell
Your eyes

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

I still feel your touch
Your breath
Hot on my skin

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

I cower in my bed
Watch the numbers on the clock
Waiting for the sun to rise

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

DARKNESS 

The night is thick
Defences torn down
An open wound
Bleeding light

Hemorrhaging the light
In my soul
Leaving only Darkness
And Despair

I close my eyes
As the darkness consumes me
Fills me deeper
Than any lover could

Surrendering
As the light bleeds
My soul
And Darkness fills the Void

DANCE WITH FIRE

As is so often part of our stories, I am struggling hard with med compliance.  While I am awaiting the response to my application for LTD, I have to be compliant with my treatment plan.  But it is a daily struggle.  Twice daily, actually.  I’ve adapted as best I can to the cognitive dulling, which was a struggle in it’s own right.  But now I’m feeling flat.  Sure there are no lows, but there are no highs either.  I’m emotionally flat-lining and it’s harder than knowing I’m not as intelligent as I was pre-meds.

Bland shades
Of muted colour
Is this my
New Existence?

No more Pit
The Abyss far
No vibrancy
No Fire

Is the trade off
Worth it?

To dance
With the Flames
To feel their warmth
Once again

If playing with the
Darkness
Is the price to pay
To feel the sun

Then let The Pit
Beckon
Let the sirens sing
Their death song

I will dance with the Fire
Be consumed in it’s flame

BACK IN TIME

To go back in time
Before everything went sour
To go back in time
When I could just be me
Before I learned
I wasn’t enough

When I still had his affection
His warmth
To go back in time
Before I was a girl
Before I hated being a girl
To go back in time
Before I flinched
From his touch

Before I learned to fear
The hands that once
Held me tenderly
To go back in time
When things were easy

And gentle
And I was loved
For being me
To back in time
Before I learned to hate
Before I knew dread

To go back in time
And claim myself

DISUNITED 

Fractured pieces
Of my mind
Litter my soul

Remnants
Of a whole woman
Who never had
The chance to be
One

Disunified
Each hiding
In its own hole
Stuck in a past
Too terrible
For words

Unable to
Leave the shadows
And unite
The fractured pieces
Of my soul

WHO AM I

Lost and wandering
Wondering
Who am I

So many voices
Clamouring for my
Attention

The frightened child
The broken girl
The angry woman

Which of these
Parts
Is the Me
Of today

SELF FLAGELLATION

Razors and alcohol
Violence upon oneself
Casual encounters
Sitting ’til frozen
Immovable with stiffness

Sleep deprivation
Poor nutrition
Scalding showers
Skipping meds

The endless ways
We punish ourselves
For the sin of
Being human

THE PIT

The pit yawns
Wide
Threatening to swallow
Me whole

The pit yawns
Dark
Offering shelter
From the pains in my soul

The pit yawns
Black
A hole crushing
My dreams od a better tomorrow

The pit yawns
A void
Sucking away
My hopes, my joys

BOUNDARIES 

Where do you end
And I begin
Is this desire me
Or pieces of you
Left behind
When you discarded me
Like so much effluent

My tastes
My hungers
My needs
Are they mine
Or are they my legacy
Of our time together

THE CRACK IN MY HEART 

Who’s gonna heal
The voice in my head
The one that says
This is who you are
This is what you are
This is all that you are

Who’s gonna heal
The crack in my heart
The one that says
You’re irreparable
That is what you are
That is all that you are

Who’s gonna heal
The blot on my soul
The one that says
You’re unlovable
Thats what you are
That is all that you are

SHATTERED

Shattered
Broken on the floor
Laying in a puddle
Of broken promises
And heartbreak

I gave you
My child’s heart
You took my innocence
My vulnerability
And warped it for your
Own pleasure

And when you had taken
All I had to offer
A child no longer
Innocent no longer

You discarded me
Like so much debris
Useful no more
What pleasure is there
In a child once broken

PAIN and REJECTION

You promised me love
You gave me rejection
You offered me acceptance
You gave me rejection

A child lost
Who thought she was found
You left me more adrift
Than I was before

A wounded child
You smashed wide open
Took my trust
My naivété
My innocence
And tore my heart and soul
Asunder

Left me curled on the floor
Like the infant that I was
Heartbroken and alone

Admitting Need

Something my therapist and I have been back and forth with since the beginning is my refusal to admit to needing to need for connection.  Sure I have some real close friends that I have a real bond with, but she insists I need something more.

Because of my history, sex and relationships have always been separate from one another, and that has got me into a LOT of trouble.  The kind that exacerbates an existing PTSD condition.  The trauma work I’ve been doing is apparently working, since the last time I was intimate with someone who was just a booty call left me empty and feeling stuff I didn’t like but didn’t recognize.  She says that someting in me wants more of a connection but my mind has to catch up.  I wrote this poem while trying to sort this crap out. (Yes, emotional stuff is crap as far as I’m concerned).The last line betrayed me.  I almost omitted it when sharing it with my therapist, but I decided if I’m asking for help in fixing my brain, I better be 100% honest with her. And now, I’m sharing it here.

The night it is thick
My intentions are pure
I only want
To make love to you

There is no tomorrow
Only the here and now
I only want
To make love to you

No games to be played
No he said she said
I only want
To make love to you

No heartbreak heartache
No broken promises false protestations
I only want
To make love to you

A lonely life to live

THE MONSTERS ARE REAL

The monsters are real
Hiding in the shaded corners
Waiting to pounce
When my guard is down
And Hope rears its lying head
Spewing half-truths and falsehoods

Promises of lighter tomorrows
Days of Light and Joy
Empty words without substance
Without depth

Engulfed in a breath
Of Darkness and Despair
Hope illuminating the way
Out of the shadows
Ethereal as the light
It feigns to bring
Providing no purchase
For the long climb out

IN THE DARK

I’m so tired of fighting.  Of waking up every day to the same struggle. Of never seeing the Light, only shades of gray.

Clawing my way out
Through the Fog
The Darkness

Seeking exit from The Abyss
Entry to The Pit
A lesser evil
A lesser Darkness

Seeking the Light
No more
A fairytale
Told to children
Still full of Hope

The only hope
Is for a lesser shade
Of black
Existence just
Interminable shades of gray fog

The only colours play
In dreams
Of a tomorrow
That won’t come

VULNERABLE

I haven’t blogged about the experiences that led to my developing PTSD and, very likely, my bipolar. I find putting words to the experience nigh impossible.  It seems easier to use poetry to express my pain, my experiences.  This was not an easy write, and will be an even harder read. 

What a dirty word
Vulnerable is

Vulnerable

A six year old
Vulnerable to physical abuse
Masquerading as love

Vulnerable

A broken six year old
Vulnerable to sexyal assault
Thinking its love

Vulnerable

A shattered six year old
Learning how to build walls

Vulnerable

Ten years old
Shutting down
Rejection just too hard

Vulnerable

Innocence smashed
Sense of self immolated

Vulnerability disappears
Becomes
Responsibility

Responsibility for
Failure
Inadequacy

Responsibility

Becomes internalized
Absorbed
Owned

How could thise walls
Ever hold
So young, too young

Vulnerable

A fifteen year old
Aching for something intangible

Vulnerable

To repeat the past
Two years a play toy

Shut down
Turn it all off
Live a facade

Smile
Behind the
Pain

The Inherent Dichotomy of Co-Morbidity

It’s a crazy thing, to be hypomanic and still be suffering the effects of C-PTSD. Complex or chronic post traumatic stress disorder. Mixed with cyclothemic bipolar renders all states crazy. I’m currently on my way out of months of depression, a few days in a mixed state, into full blown hypomania. Yet the Darkness is never far away. I can be flying high, enjoying the state, working on my novel, writing poetry, even basically things like cleaning, which, by the way, are much more fun when you’re manic. Everyday tasks are almost a joy, since I’m so scattered I’m not even sure what I’m doing. (Like using a glue stick instead of lip balm, but I digress, that’s a story for another day). Where was I, oh ya, even in the midst of joy, where the sun is shining, (well, it’s raining and gray, but it’s shining in my heart for once) and I can smile. When Bang! Out of the great blue yonder comes a flashback. When I’m depressed, they drop me even deeper into the Pit, down into the Abyss of suicidal despair. In a mixed or hypo/manic state, they leave me edgy, restless, ill-at-ease, frightened. Which transmutes into Irritability. Hyper and irritable. Sucks. And leaves me feeling

Broken

Haunted eyes
Hollow and empty
Of naught but fear

Another sleepless night
Or dreams filled with terror
The power you still have
Over me
So many years later

Remnants return
Out of nothing
And your hands
Your cologne
The weight of your body
Memory returns

Physical

Emotional

Love is earned
Only through pain
Subservience

Lessons I learned
So very well
Shaped the core
Of who I am

Broken

Tarnished

And yet a small crumb of solace, the suicidal ideation is at bay, and while being edgy and restless isn’t great, it is infinitely better than being outright suicidal and knowing you can never act on that desire because you don’t want your kids as fucked up as you are.

So have a great weekend all, and play safe.

Are They Real

Another night of flashback hell.  I hate this.  Sometimes the tools in your toolbox just aren’t enough and all you can do is wait for the sun to rise. 

Lenti Lenti Currite Noctis Equi–Faust 

Oh slowly run
The horses of mine heart
Keep calm and cool
An even gait
Immune to the forces
Of our o’er active mind

Let neither evil thought
Nor frightful fragment of mem’ry
Cause thy pattern
To beat out a-pace

The fever’d imaginings
Of a diseased
And fractured brain
Can do you no harm

Bi-Polar, C-PTSD, and Me

Are we our diagnoses, are they us, or is there some sort of medium where we can be us, certainly shaped by our illness(es) but not defined by them.  My diagnoses came late in life, after being treated, inaccurately (and thus with a resounding lack of success for almost 20 years), for major depressive disorder.  I recently found an old book of poetry I had written back in high school, and one of the poems from when I was 16 could have been written by me, today, in a hypomanic phase.  I prefer phase to state, it seems less foreboding and permanent.

I used to pride myself on the fact that my past may have shaped me, but it didn’t define me.  Someday I might share with you the rough history that is mine, but not today.  Suffice it to say that my therapist used the term “very horrific” to describe my legacy.  Unfortunately, I have had to accept that fact that it did do more than shape me, it did, indeed, define me and the numerous ways I see myself.

But that’s ok.  Language evolves.  Definitions change.  And the me that is today, defined by my experiences, does not have to be the me of tomorrow.  I can learn to make better choices, do things differently.  And when the siren’s songs come, I can make choices toward the future, as opposed to reacting from the past.

Mindfulness, being aware of what you’re doing and WHY you’re reacting a certain way, helps to create new habits, new understandings, and new approaches.  Am I there?  Not even close.  Do I believe?  Yeah, today I do. It’s damn hard, but somehow, some way, I will find the strength to overcome.  I have to.

The alternative is untenable.

Breathe In

The past week I’ve been living in flashback hell. And not really coping well.  Three therapy appointments in one week and I’m finally breathing.

I find it interesting how breathing is the key to everything regarding recovery. Breathing and mindfulness.  And with the techniques and tools I’ve been taught,  I’m learning how to manage and stay present.  Drifting has been a huge problem for me this week   I’m hoping to be able to bring it back on more this week.

Breathe in
Against the tightness
Breath in
Against the rising tide

The Black fog’s
Tendrils reaching deep
Breathe in
Against the panic

Shallow
Breathing so shallow
Like a scared squirrel
Heart racing against hands
That cradle
But feel like traps

Lightheaded
Fear keeps the breath rapid
Respiration without depth
Unsafe the only thought
Breathe in
Against the urge to run

Abject terror
At nothing
Breathe in
Against the need to self destruct

The stars beckon
Come fly between
Soar up into space
Become one with the cosmos

Breathe in
Against the desire
To escape and never come back

Breathe in
Against the waters siren call
Breathe in
Against the invitation to sink
Embraced by the blanket of
Seaweed and foam

Breathe in
Against the ne’er-ending pain
Breathe in
Against the desire to give up
Breathe in
Against the exhaustion

Breathe in
The knowledge of your battles
Breathe in
Acceptance of how far you’ve come
Breathe in
And  continue the fight

Breathe in
You’ve made it through so much
Breathe in
The aftermath can’t kill you
Breathe in
Don’t let the aftermath kill you

CoMorbidity

Good Evening. 

I haven’t been posting as I’ve been dealing with some personal struggles.  And as anyone with multiple diagnoses can attest,  sorting out which symptom comes from what ailment is always fun.  Add the potential side effects from the meds we take to manage said issues,  and confusion becomes the order of the day. 

I have recently learned that a lot of  the side effects I was attributing to the meds are actually due to the C-PTSD.  Which changes a lot.  And makes more sense. 

I recently started seeing a therapist that specializes in trauma and stress. Because it interests me, and I read a lot about it, she’s been patiently explaining the biology behind what’s going on. 

And when you take bipolar and C-PTSD and put the symptoms side by side there’s a lot of overlap. So how does one figure out what the hell is going on? 

For me it’s learning how to be mindful. Multiple check ins  during the day. Learning my body’s nuances as I learn to recognize what I’m feeling and why. It’s an ongoing lesson with an ever changing learning curve. But with mindfulness,  diligence,  and a support system who can help you recognize what’s going on,  it is possible to not only cope but thrive. The key is to stick with it. If you do you’ll learn to recognize and,  eventually, manage your symptoms and achieve balance and live well.